We hear a lot about the anxiety of students going back to school - the fear of a COVID outbreak, the educational losses, and the difficulty re-adjusting. But what you don't hear much about is the unmitigated JOY that many young persons are feeling to be out of the four walls of home, and back amongst their peers, interacting with them in the flesh.

They are also happy to be back in classrooms rather than staring at a computer screen, or a work package printout.

But schools that do reopen still need to abide by the COVID regulations - they need handwash stations and social distance markers. And Orange Walk Technical High School was able to meet those requirements and then some. They opened about two weeks ago and so far, things are going smoothly. The students even created a wall of emotions, expressing their feelings about being back at school.

Courtney Menzies was at the school yesterday and has this story.

It's been almost two weeks since the students at Orange Walk Technical High School have been back inside their classrooms after two years of distance learning.

And for this school with about 850 children from 24 villages in Orange Walk - as well as the town - they were excited to see students at desks and teachers in front of chalkboards.

School counselor, Licia Castillo, had the students express their emotion by displaying a wall of their feelings.

Licia Castillo, Counselor, Orange Walk Technical High School
"Many of the kids because we did not have the kind of interaction because many of them had very limited access to device and internet but what we are seeing today and what I'm hearing from them, and we've been doing a little activity with them to get some feedback, and to what it's like being back at school and so we did a little activity yesterday, because we divided into two groups, so yesterday we started with the activity and we've asked, even though there has been some negative feedback like it's a little bit stressful having to get up very early in the morning, being somewhat bored, sitting on hard chairs, but for the most part what we have been feeling is just a real relief, an overwhelming happiness and excitement to be back at school."

Castillo explained that many of these kids had a tough time at home - a large percentage of them being forced to become cooks, cleaners, babysitters for their siblings, and income earners for the home.

And the struggle continues even while back at school, since they're only there for two days out of the week. But according to the principal, it's part of their COVID protocols to keep everyone safe - and so far, they've been working.

Julian Polanco, Principal, Orange Walk Technical High School
"We divided our students from firsy form to fourth form, even numbers, so on a particular day we have about 400 students and the next day 400+ students as well. But presently, who are reporting to school, we have about close to 700 students and the other ones are still doing distance learning because the parent still don't want to send the kids at schools this point."

"We have had no outbreaks of COVID at our school because I believe that we have the correct protocols to we have the wash stations at the front, after lunch, we have staggered lunch as well, after a particular lunch as well, we spray and sanitize, if you stay a few minutes more, you will see a person sanitize the table, within ten minutes, another group comes in as well so we're trying to do everything to make sure there won't be an outbreak at school."

But even without any known cases, the school is prepared with the installation of an infirmary and employing a nurse. Ginelly Uk cares for the children, no matter the illness, but she explained that they have procedures in place when kids have serious symptoms.

Ginelly Uk, Head of Infirmary Room, OWTHS
"Starting the first week, we had children getting nausea, vomit, headache, fever like symptoms, so they are to come here first, I take their vitals, etc., measure if it's an emergency, well we have to call administration, administration do their part, they call their parents and parents come look for them. We've had some cases, it might not be COVID, but we're just taking measures for them, not to get mixed up with others who might be healthy."

"I hope that we don't get children every day, we've basically get one per day, sometimes allergies, it's not a serious thing, but we can deal with it."

According to Uk, OWTHS is one of the first schools to install an infirmary with a nurse available during the school day.

Channel 7