Students at Pinellas Park Middle Schools say despite COVID-19 protocols, they’re excited to be back in the classroom.By Casey Albritton

PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. (CW44 NEWS AT 10) – Wednesday was the first day back to school for students in Pinellas County.

Students at Pinellas Park Middle Schools say despite COVID-19 protocols, they’re excited to be back in the classroom.

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Amaujee Crawford, a student at Pinellas Park Middle School says “I met some friends that I saw last year, new faces, and overall it’s just going great.”

Dr. Jason Shedrick, principal of Pinellas Park Middle School says “They say Dr. Shedrick, when I was at home, I couldn’t’ wait to come back ton campus. And when you see that joy when they’re back on campus, it just warms your heart as a principal.”

Students say one of the best parts is being able to socialize again.

“I’m mostly excited to see my friends that were online last year and I got to see them in the hallway,” said Crawford.

Brooklyn Velez, an 8th grader at Pinellas Park Middle School, says “I haven’t seen a lot of people I know this year. I’ve seen a lot of new faces and I’ve also seen a lot more people without masks.”

Velez says she doesn’t wear a mask because she is fully vaccinated, but she respects her classmates choices.

“It hasn’t affected how I feel about other people. Like if you wear a mask, you wear a mask, it’s completely fine,” said Velez.

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But she has noticed something new about how students are acting.

“I do feel like more people who don’t wear masks sit next to people who don’t wear masks, and people who sit next to people wear masks,” said Velez.

Crawford says he’s choosing to wear his mask every day, but doesn’t mind if his friends don’t.

“I wear one to be safe,” said Crawford.

Despite the masks, Velez says she’s noticed the school social distancing students and taking extra precautions.

“Making sure the desks are clean, making sure we wipe them off and stuff and a lot of hand sanitizer,” said Velez.

While students may be heading back to school, Velez says she’s excited to get back to a somewhat normal year.

“Social distancing is still there but it’s not as much as it used to be, so I’m excited that I don’t have to be so far away from my friends,” said Velez.

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The district says it will continue recommending masks through out the school year and students will have seating charts in all of their classrooms.