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School is back in session here in the Southern Tier

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(WBNG) -- Wednesday was the first day of school for a number of districts across the area, and health officials are actively working with schools to ensure the safest environment possible as students return.

Many experts considered schools to be one of the safest places in the country last year, largely due to the safety protocols in place.

Up in Chenango County, COVID cases are on the rise, largely in similar settings to schools. Health officials told 12 News they're working to make sure that doesn't carry over into the classroom.

"The number one goal is to get as many kids back in the classroom full time as possible; once we achieve that goal, now we want to make sure they're as safe as possible while they're there," said Isaiah Sutton, the county's director of environmental health and school liaison. "The governor's office has put out some mandates regarding masking and testing and we're working to help schools navigate that so they can be productive in what they do best."

One of the schools back in the classroom Wednesday was the Windsor Central School District.

Students were roaming the halls trying to find their new classes, and their teachers said they couldn't be happier about it.

Staff told 12 News they still get butterflies before the first day of school, and added they're just as excited as they've ever been.

While the district was largely in-person last year, administrators told 12 news there was something special in the air this morning.

"Our classes are filled with kids, and we're on a regular transportation schedule, a regular bell schedule and so going back 12 months ago, even though we were in-person, it looked fairly different," said Dr. Jason Andrews, the school's superintendent. "This year, it's back much more like it was prior to COVID."

The district said only students with medical exemptions will be learning remotely this year.

Josh Rosenblatt

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