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Students Return To School In Newark

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Newark schools welcomed students back to classrooms for the first time in more than a year. CBS2's John Dias reports.

Video Transcript

- --time in more than a year, Newark schools welcome students back to the classrooms there.

- CBS2's John Dias with more now on the COVID safety measures in place to keep everyone safe.

JOHN DIAS: After more than a year of remote learning, all Newark public schools have started in-person learning today. Students say their first day back was--

- Good.

- Good.

- Terrible.

JOHN DIAS: Why?

- Because, like, the kids were getting up from the seats, not distancing.

JOHN DIAS: Schools will operate on a hybrid model with students spending two days a week in the classroom. Almost 500 students at First Avenue School signed up. That's about half the enrollment. Most are looking to jump right into it.

GEOMAIRA FIALLOS: I'm going to pay attention, and I'm going to do my homework.

JOHN DIAS: Entering the school is a four-step process, including temperature checks and sanitizing not just hands but the bottom of shoes with this so-called foot-washing station.

- They're going to step into a solution on a mat, make sure that we're taking all the germs off the bottom of their shoes.

JOHN DIAS: The district was supposed to open in mid-January.

- The realities of the numbers and the positivity rate in the city just didn't make it the most incredible safe experience.

JOHN DIAS: And the teachers union said schools were improperly stocked.

JOHN ABEIGON: The PPE wasn't in, although it had been ordered.

JOHN DIAS: Now the union is giving the regulations a stamp of approval. All students and staff must wear face masks at all times, practice social distancing. Water fountains are turned off, and desks are spaced out six feet apart with three-sided clear partitions. Though the CDC only recommends three feet, the classrooms are big enough to accommodate.

JOHN ABEIGON: We love the CDC and we trust the CDC, but the CDC is not in a school room. We'll try the six feet first.

JOHN DIAS: The teachers-union president is saying that this is a trial run for what's expected to be a full return come September. The superintendent saying that they may roll back some of the restrictions if they feel necessary. From Newark, New Jersey, John Dias, CBS2 News.