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RANDOLPH COUNTY, N.C. — The return to school is a highly debated subject across the Piedmont.

FOX8 spent time in Randolph County on Tuesday where the school district has had in person learning for months.

“Whatever we can do to keep them in front of our teachers is worth it,” said Brian Hodgin, the principal of Southwestern Randolph High School.

For his students, that means always wearing a mask, having daily temperature checks and staying away from each other.

“Just adjusting to what the new normal is. Right now, what that is, is we can see a percentage of our students two days a week,” he added.

Since August, Hodgin and his staff have worked tirelessly to make sure about 250-300 students at a time can safely learn inside of the building.

He said the effort is worth it.

“Just being able to see our students and interact with them, just to make sure they were doing well, has gone a long way,” Hodgin said.

Superintendent Dr. Stephen Gainey admitted there have been challenges and some worries along the way.

“We saw the numbers rise. We saw them rise in a way consistent to what the numbers were doing across the state,” he explained. “We held in there to our standards and our contact tracing, even though we had some tough weeks.”

The district has a three person contact tracing team working around the clock.

Gainey helps when he can.

During the six months of in-person learning, schools have closed for several days, bus routes have been changed and bus drivers have doubled up on trips to reduce the number of students on board.

“Everyone committed to ‘let’s go back to school,’ and we don’t know what it’s going to take, but we’re going to stick to it,” Gainey said.

He said they’ve been successful because parents, teachers and students are working together and following the rules to stay in school.

Gainey told FO8X that he’s seen learning loss in his students. He said that having them back in class and building relationships with teachers will help.