MEDFORD, Ore. -- On Monday, the Medford School District officially brought back all of its students, elementary through high school, back to in-person learning for good.
"It has been a long time coming," said Superintendent Dr. Bret Champion. "We have kids back now and that is really exciting."
For more than a year, the Medford School District had been teaching its students through comprehensive distance learning.
But just a few weeks ago, the district was able to finally make the switch to a hybrid learning model, allowing for some students to return to campus.
"We were in hybrid for the last two weeks but it was nothing like real school," said Ara Mathis, a junior at South Medford High School. "And although we aren't getting the same high school experience like I had in my freshmen year, it's really awesome to be back in school."
But now the days have CDL and hybrid learning are gone.
"It's been really great seeing everybody's faces that I haven't seen in a long time," said Mateo Pena, a senior at South Medford High School.
"Honestly I woke up and it just felt like a normal day," said Liliana Escobedo, a junior at South Medford High School. "And then it hit me like, I'm actually going to see everyone today and that was really special to have."
But the journey to getting back on campus, with no more online learning, hasn't been easy. For Pena, Mathis and Escobedo, their grades began to falter when the school district decided to go to CDL.
"I definitely struggled a lot," said Pena. "I managed to keep up my GPA, but it was definitely difficult to do that."
"I work really hard to keep up my grades, but it was really difficult for me," said Escobedo. "I had to work so hard in one class that I had to get a tutor and I constantly felt like I was a 'C' student instead of an 'A' student."
According to Dr. Champion, this was one of the reasons that the school district wanted to return back to in-person learning full-time as well giving kids the social interactions that they need and couldn't get in CDL.
"Getting kids back to the classroom where they have a better opportunity to learn and where they are able to be social interactions is important," said Dr. Champion. "It just makes a lot of sense to be back in school."
And if Mathis had one word to describe how students dealt with the difficulties of CDL, hybrid learning and the pandemic, that word would be perseverance.
"So many people have had ups and downs this entire year," said Mathis. "But people are still persevering through it and even though we are back in school there are still a lot of challenges. It takes a lot of perseverance to get through that.'