SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – Summer vacation has come to an end, as Monday is the first day of school for many children in Massachusetts.

This year will be different from back-to-school last year, and most similar to those of pre-pandemic times, with limited COVID-19 protocols in place While back to school can sometimes be bittersweet, the students at John F. Kennedy looked eager to begin the year Monday morning.

Back to school 2022 will not feature mandatory face coverings, social distancing, or hybrid schedules. The state’s Department of Elementary and Secondary Education announced in mid-August that they will not recommend surveillance testing of asymptomatic individuals, contact tracing, or the test-to-stay program.

22News spoke with the Superintendent for Springfield Schools about how precautions will be mandated in the district. “We’re following the state guidance and the CDC, everyone was in sync so that made it easier, but of course, at the end of the day, we go by our local health commissioner,” says Daniel Warwick

State guidance says that COVID precaution strategies should focus on vulnerable and symptomatic individuals while allowing the rest of the students to return to normal operations.

Anyone who tests positive should follow DPH isolation guidelines; returning to class once symptoms subside, following five days of isolation. Upon return, students should wear a mask for an additional five days. Students can reduce their number of absences by live streaming classes, if possible.

Any building closures due to COVID-19 will be treated like snow day closures, with additional days added to the end of the year if school falls below 180 days of instruction.