Thursday marked the first full day of classes for Newfoundland and Labrador students from kindergarten through high school, and the most senior class is approaching the year with mixed feelings.
The final year will already be memorable because of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has affected how classes will happen.
For seniors, one of the biggest celebrations of their lives to date — graduation — is at stake.
"I'm hopeful. I'll be really upset if we don't get a graduation," said Lauren Dibbon, a Grade 12 student at Waterford Valley High School in St. John's.
Dibbon said she hopes restrictions will begin to loosen after Christmas, and other than masks and keeping distant from other people — including some long-time friends — the first day of classes is pretty much normal.
Grace Walsh, also in Grade 12 at Waterford Valley, said without extracurricular activities such as dances, clubs and a prom, students' mental health will be tested this year, despite the feeling of normalcy that comes with being back inside the classroom.
The focus on education and very little socialization is leaving students feeling isolated, she said.
"Even though we'll all be together, it's still kind of isolating. Just coming to school and learning, it could definitely be tough on people," said Walsh.
'It's actually a huge relief'
Meanwhile, on the other side of the city, Maria Delacruz, a Grade 12 student at Holy Heart of Mary, said she doesn't feel good to be back in school just yet.
"We're not actually sure if it is safe to be back in school," Delacruz told CBC News.
Even though we'll all be together, it's still kind of isolating. - Grace Walsh
Delacruz, like Walsh and Dibbon, is also concerned about graduation.
She said there are a lot of changes to the school year so far, and with last year's graduating class missing out on their final school celebration, she's hoping her class can go ahead with theirs.
Silas Murray, also entering Grade 12 at Holy Heart, said much of the nervousness in his class comes from the unknown standing of school events.
"I know it's not actually too big of a deal, the celebration is supposed to happen. I just wish there will be something at the end of the year. That would be really cool," Murray said.
Still, Murray said, he's happy to be back in class, adding he's not sure he could do virtual or distance learning for an entire year.
"I'm so glad to be back in class. It's actually a huge relief," he said.
"Everybody is gathering around in these huge groups which doesn't normally happen. Or maybe it does. It's been a while."