TOPEKA (KSNT) – School is back in session and some local teachers say it’s already off to a better start than last year.

McClure Elementary in Topeka started the 2021-22 school year last week with both mask and social distancing mandates. Officials from the state and CDC recommend school districts require masks for everyone, regardless of vaccination status. Locally, some other districts are starting the school year not following those recommendations.

McClure’s Principal Chelsea Artzer said last year was stressful for staff and students with so many unknowns, but now with a year of practice, she said learning with mandates feels like the new normal for many.

“Especially for some of our students who were kindergarteners last year, they haven’t experienced anything else,” Artzer said. “So the kids, they’re amazing in terms of following the protocols. They wear their masks, they follow social distancing guidelines, and they do what needs to be done to maintain safety here at the school.”

Topeka Public Schools is also offering a full-time virtual school for families who don’t want to send their students in person. Less than 0.5% of elementary students in the district chose this virtual option this year.