EDINA, Minn. (WCCO) — It’s the first day of school for some students, many who haven’t been back in-person since last year’s pandemic. This year, students at Edina School District are returning to classrooms five days a week.

Amid rising COVID-19 cases, the school district has implemented safety protocols. At a special meeting this month, the school board approved a 30-day, Phase 1 Return to School plan.

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The plan includes mandatory indoor masking for anyone ages 2 and older. HEPA filters are also used in all classrooms, including nurses’ offices. This month, the district hosted vaccination clinics. Another vaccination clinic is planned for next month.

“Families, we’ve worked hard to make certain that we have the best multi-layered protocol in place to keep kids safe. We’re excited for students to be here,” said Edina School Superintendent Stacie Stanley.

In an event that a student is diagnosed with COVID-19, Stanley said teachers and nurses have a plan so that particular student can continue to be served at home, if they’re able to.

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If other students and staff came near someone with COVID-19 in the building, Stanley said as long as there were social distancing and appropriate masking, those individuals do not need to be quarantined. However, the district will ask them to take a COVID-19 test within three to five days.

The Edina School Board will continue to monitor COVID-19 and vaccination rates. In about 30 days, the school board will meet to reevaluate.

Stanley said the pandemic and distance learning made it tough to meet students’ social emotional needs.

“School is a social space. Kids connect, teachers connect with students and it was so important for them to be here so that they could have those experiences,” said Stanley.

Stanley continued by saying principals and teachers have worked hard in the past couple of weeks creating what they call “soft landing.”

“We know we have the whole child, that’s important for us,” said Stanley. “Rather than moving them directly into academics, we’re giving them time to get to know one another, to ease back in to know themselves as a learner. Being a learner at home was entirely different to being a learner in school.”

The Edina School District was able to implement additional mental health services through funding from Edina Education Fund.

Pafoua Yang