PRINCETON, WV (WVNS) — The first day of school is officially here in Mercer County. Students full of jitters and teachers were ready to welcome new faces, but on this first day of school, the faces were hardly seen.

The WV Department of Health and Human Resources shows Mercer County in the red on the county alert system, which means masks are required for all students and faculty. Superintendent Ed Toman says it is unfortunate, but it was necessary to keep students safe.

“It’s scary, it’s an adjustment and I apologized to some of the kids, sorry we have to do this,” said Toman.

After previous push back on the masks from parents, Superintendent Ed Toman said he is happy with how day one went.

“Every classroom that I went into, I was very impressed with the youngsters and the young adults that we have in our system and staff. Everybody did a very good job. It is uncomfortable and different, but I think right now we’ve got to do the best we can,” said Toman.

Toman said the best way to make sure students are following the mask mandate is to lead by example.

“I talked to a couple board of education members about how we can do better as a role model and an example to students. We had two weeks of staff here doing training. Was there some things that we could do better with our masks? Absolutely. We put out a memo and a call to parents and also to staff about the mask preparation,” said Toman.

He said each week, new DHHR numbers come out and a decision regarding the upcoming week will be made. He said he is optimistic for this year and hopeful the district will be able to keep students in the classroom.