LONDON, ONT. -- Starting Monday, the Thames Valley District School Board allowed thousands of students at its 27 high schools to go back and clear out personal belongings left behind following the outbreak of COVID-19.

With strict protocols in place for safety, it was the first time they’ve been back since before March Break.

“It sucks because I want to talk to my friends, I want to talk to my teachers but I can't do that,” said Tiago Medeiros, a Grade 11 student at Montcalm Secondary School in London.

For those in their final year, the pandemic has robbed them of more than just one semester.

“Not to have prom or grad I feel cheated that I don't get those opportunities like other years,” said Brooke Wickens, a Grade 12 student at Montcalm.

For the many of the staff at Montcalm the past three months has also been tough

“I think that the staff are suffering just as much as the students,” said Renee Shave, the principal at Montcalm.

For now, both staff and students are looking forward to the day the pandemic is behind them.

“I think that this has been the boost that everyone needs to kind of push through to the end have a great summer and we'll wait to see what happens in the fall,” said Shave.

High school and elementary students across the region are returning to pick up their belongings throughout the month of June.