By CBSLA Staff

ORANGE (CBSLA) — The mask on little Evelyn Griffin’s face couldn’t dampen the spring in her step as she headed for the first day of preschool at St. Norbert Catholic School in Orange Tuesday.

St. Norbert Catholic School was one the private schools in Orange County to be granted a waiver to reopen for in-person classes.

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“We are so thrilled to have the kids back,” Principal Joe Ciccoianni said. “It has been a quiet, quiet place around here for the last six months.”

(credit: CBS)

The first day of school looked and felt different, however. Students had their temperatures checked before they were dropped off, and they wore masks. Before being allowed into their classrooms, the morning line-up was spaced out in an effort to observe social distancing guidelines. Safety has been a guide to all their decisions for this school year, Ciccoianni said.

“We have about seven handwashing breaks during the day, we have all the desks six feet apart in the classrooms. We have mask rules that are according to CDPH guidelines,” he said.

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The new safety measures were reassuring for little Evelyn’s mother, Heather.

“The school is absolutely prepared for all of this,” she said. “We feel very confident in everything they’ve done.”

But in spite of the school’s efforts, only about 80% of the school’s families opted to return for in-person learning. But school officials hope more will come back as the year goes on.

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So far, only schools that have been granted waivers by their counties have been able to resume in-person learning. But with Orange County moving from the state’s most severe purple tier to the red tier, more of its schools may be able to return to in-person learning later this month.