JACKSON, Miss. (WJTV) – With the first day of school less than a week away, the Jackson Public School District (JPS) is preparing for students to return to the classroom this fall.

The district held a hybrid convocation at Chastain Middle School Wednesday morning to reflect on virtual learning and to celebrate the new school year. Some teachers were allowed to attend in person. The event was livestreamed for everyone else at multiple locations across the district.

“I have missed this, coming together to celebrate a new school year. Welcoming this amazing team back,” said Superintendent Dr. Errick Greene.

Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba and President of Jackson State University Thomas Hudson even stopped by to say a few words.

“I also have the honor and privilege of being a proud product of Jackson Public Schools,” said Hudson.

“I too am a JPS product,” said Lumumba.

There were also musical performances by staff and students. Although COVID cases are spiking in Jackson, teachers and students said they are excited to return to the classroom.

Greene said last year’s scores showed that students do better academically when learning in person. He said he knows that many parents are concerned, but the district has plans in place to help stop the spread of COVID.

“We’re using an outside service to provide some major and long term disinfectant… also installing disinfecting in our HVAC systems that will help with air circulation,” said Greene.

JPS is set to return to 100 percent in person learning on Monday. A mask mandate will be in place for all students.