Coachella Valley students are officially back to in-person learning, after more than a year of remote education.
The new school year represents a chance for the COVID generation to regain lost opportunities that they missed out on in 2020, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
"Being back is really nice, its refreshing," said Valeria Gutierrez Senior at Shadow Hills High School.
2021 offers a fresh start after more than a year of remote learning filled with hurdles.
"Spanish was pretty hard. Imagine waking up at 8 in the morning and trying to learn another language over the computer," said Gracie Van Dijk, a senior at Rancho Mirage High School.
The school year also took a toll on students' mental health.
"I broke down crying one day because I just couldn't handle it," said Gustavo Sandoval, a sophomore at Desert Mirage High School.
"When I came back you know that I had more anxiety, like social anxiety, but you know while being at home it kind of felt safer," said Micah Henry, a freshman at Palm Springs High School.
"That excitement, but also nervousness of meeting new people again and also seeing people in person -- like do I look okay, or am I talking alright?," Gutierrez said.
Watch an extended version of this story with more experiences from valley students
School districts are taking many steps to prioritize the health of staff, students and their families, working to implement on-line COVID trackers and other protocol.
"We also wear masks, we still keep pretty good distance, we don't use the plexiglass things anymore, but we still wipe our desks down and wipe our stools or chairs," said Aiden Herrera, a sophomore at La Quinta High School.
But a surge in new COVID-cases driven by the Delta variant has some students on edge.
"History is more like an in person thing, having more discussions and working one on one with groups in class so I kind of struggled with that because I didn't really get that full experience," Herrera said.
The joy of getting face-to-face time once again with teachers and classmates is fueling the COVID generation and with that a new perspective.
"You only have one opportunity and you never know when you get that chance again because tomorrow is never promised so you might as well live life to the fullest," Gutierrez said.