SAN DIEGO – It’s officially the time for students and teachers to head back into the classroom across San Diego County.

Thousands of students have returned to school over the past few weeks and even more are slated to start up again before Labor Day.

While it may just be another school year for many, for others, there are some changes this year for students in some of San Diego’s biggest districts.

Within the Grossmont Union High School District, a new start time, new COVID-19 protocols, and an adjusted lunch program are just a few things students will have to look forward to.

Even with the changes, however, students who spoke to FOX 5’s Alani Letang said that they are excited to get back to school.

“Seeing my teachers, getting back, seeing all my friends,” said Michael Elmange, a student at Grossmont High School.

“I’m just excited, just excited to see new people, new teachers,” said Adriana Yokub, a Greenfield Middle School student.

Whether students are eager to meet their teachers, start sports and activities, see old friends or make new ones, school is back in session.

Starting Monday: Del Mar Unified School District, Jamul-Dulzura Union School District, Mountain Empires Unified School District, and Grossmont Union School District.

Some districts will start later due to California Senate Bill 328, which seeks to address sleep deprivation.

The law, signed in 2019 by Governor Gavin Newsom, requires public secondary schools to start no earlier than 8 a.m. for middle schools and no earlier than 8:30 a.m. for high schools.

Grossmont Union High School has made the adjustment.

“It’s gonna be better, I don’t have to wake up as early as before, but its’ gonna suck I have to get out later,” said one student.

School start time is decided at the local level, and families should contact their school for details.

Also new this year, all 6.2 million public school students in the state will have the option to have free school meals, regardless of a family’s income.

In the third year of the COVID-19 pandemic, students also are grappling with ever-changing protocols surrounding the coronavirus. The CDC recently loosened some guidelines, children can still go to class if they have been exposed to COVID-19. However, the CDC says exposed students and staff who are asymptomatic should wear a mask for ten days, and test on day five.

The CDC also dropped recommended routine testing in K-12 schools. When it comes to masking, the CDC recommends it, especially indoors in areas with a high risk of transmission.

Some schools in the area are requiring masks while others have decided to forgo a mandate for the time being.

“Well I guess it’s gonna be in a way okay, and in a way, not okay because sometimes you never know who has COVID,” said Maria Vazquez, a parent of a Granite Hills High School junior.