NOVATO (KPIX) – Some schools in Marin County are giving us a glimpse of what it will be like when students come back, after months of distance learning due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Three campuses have started converting classrooms to accentuate health and safety. For now, it’s a pilot program, but it is also a careful and measured look at what a classroom may look like, when students finally return.

Starting Monday, some students are returning to the classroom — a classroom that may be forever changed, like this special education class at San Jose Middle School, in Novato.

Eight desks inside taped boxes ensure social distancing. The remainder of the class will attend online.

Ken Lippi is Marin County Office of Education’s Assistant Superintendent. He says administrators will learn a lot about how they will approach the next school year.

“It’s not only an experiment, but for us, it gets us back to why we’re in this, which is to be with our kids in a classroom setting where those relationships can be built,” said Lippi.

Special education teacher Cindy Evans says the first day was interesting.

“It was great. We greeted in the parking lot. We had to take temperatures and parents had to answer some questions about health making sure that everybody was healthy at home as well as the students,” she said.

This is a special, limited access program for only a few classrooms, following strict health department guidelines ensuring everyone’s safety.

Across the street, Caleb Conn is with his two kids, Jojo and Torin. Given he choice of online or classroom attendance he isn’t sure which one he prefers for his family.

“Obviously, smaller classrooms make more sense, uh, but…I don’t know. It’s too hard to know right now.,” said Conn.

On Monday, class started right on time.

“They were very excited to be here, sat down in their desk and just waited for the morning meeting to start,” says Evans.

Lippi says safety always comes first.

“We are watching this very carefully and again, I’ll say it, I’ve said it many times, with the guidance of public health.”

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