SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) — On Wednesday, nearly 40,000 students in Savannah-Chatham County Public Schools (SCCPSS) returned to the classroom.

At Islands High School, incoming seniors got a warm welcome from their families and staff as they walked into school for their last first day.

“It feels pretty weird,” senior Delaney Gordon said. “I feel like it’s going to go by really fast but I’m going to cherish every moment of it.”

School district leaders said they’re just as ready and excited to welcome students back. It’s the first start of a new school year since 2020 where masks are optional for students and staff.

“We’ve been through a lot in the last two years and they’ve been resilient, they’ve persisted and we’ve had good outcomes,” said Superintendent Dr. Ann Levett. “It’s been challenging, but it’s also been very rewarding.”

While masks are optional, quarantine guidelines are the same as last year, which require students to isolate for five days if they test positive for COVID-19. The district will continue sharing weekly case reports, as well as providing parents with a flow chart with guidance on how to respond if their child tests positive.

Levett said the past two school years have prepared the district to be ready to change plans at any moment. But for now, staff and students celebrate the start of a new year together.

“It’s an exciting time,” said Derrick Butler, principal of Islands High School. “Any time we have the opportunity to welcome back our students to campus, celebrate our last first day for our seniors, but really for all of our students this is a great and exciting start to the school year.”

Students back in school also means more cars on the road. The district’s Chief of Campus police reminds drivers to keep patient during pickup and drop-off and to stay attentive to pedestrians and school zone speed limits.

Starting Wednesday morning, the Chatham County Police Department reactivated school zone speed cameras.