"I am very excited for the first day of school" says seventh grade school teacher Joy Hunley. Its Hunley's second year in Union County educating children in the classroom.
"I think we are all very excited to get back into the classroom, the first day of school and see what our new normal is going to be" adds Hunley.
Monday Union County Schools will return to in person classroom instruction.
"We are going to use a phased in approach to ease our students and staff into the building" says Union County Schools Spokeswoman Melinda Beauchamp.
Administrators put several plans in place to help protect students, faculty and staff.
"It will be scaled back for the first week, on Monday and Tuesday, the blue group will come which is half of the students who opted in for in person instruction, then Wednesday and Thursday the white group will come" says Beauchamp.
Every student will have their temperature taken before entering the school building.
"All of our students will be masked all the time in the building unless they are eating or drinking" says Beauchamp.
Like many school districts across the Tri-State, Union County will not use lockers this school year. Students are required to bring there own refillable water bottles. Water fountains will be closed. The gym at Union County Middle School will be used as a cafeteria over flow to allow proper social distancing.
"This allows us to have a small amount of students in the building, to allow them to get use to everything and allow us to trouble shoot" adds Beauchamp.
According to district leaders, 30% of students plan to stay enrolled in the online virtual option.
"My girlfriend has three school aged children from 9-18-years-old that attend Union County Schools, they're being kept home because of the increase in COVID-19 here in Union County" says parent Glenn Fry.
In the last 14 days COVID-19 cases have surged in Union County, the highest spike in COVID-19 cases for the county since the pandemic began in March 2020.
"We are ready to see our students and we hope they're ready to see us" says Beauchamp.