STUART, Fla. — Martin County schools opened their doors Tuesday morning and welcomed students and teachers back into the classroom.
It is the first school district in our area to head back since the pandemic.
Chloe Tolton finished her first day as a freshman at Martin County High School and the first time back in a classroom since the coronavirus pandemic.
SPECIAL COVERAGE: Back to School
"It's definitely different to have the teachers not interact with you as they normally would ... no one can get super close to you," Tolton said.
Her mom was busy snapping back to school photos in the backyard before her 14-year-old daughter boarded a bus, where students now have to social distance.
"I sit on the bus with my good friend, and we're not like squished together. We're a good way apart," Tolton said.
Masks are now required on campus, and junior Stephen Okiye said he saw changes inside the building.
"At lunch there's a limit to the number of people per table and every other chair is marked off so you can't sit in it," Okiye said.
"In the hallways, they put down tape and arrows to direct you, and there were only one-way hallways," Tolton said.
Despite this, Okiye said the first day felt almost normal and there wasn't much discussion about the virus at the lunch table.
"Nothing about corona or anything like that going on, just friends catching up," Okiye said.
Both students said they wanted to go back to school because virtual learning wasn't for them.
It's the first step forward, and they both hope it continues and they all stay healthy.
"I'm going to practice the procedures of staying healthy and good hygiene so that I know I'm going to keep myself as healthy as I possibly can," Tolton said.
The superintendent said 38 percent of students in the Martin County School District opted for virtual learning to start the school year, but they can switch to traditional in-classroom learning in the future.