NEWARK, New Jersey (WABC) -- School bells rang again for students in Newark, New Jersey after nearly a year and a half.
Spirits were high as educators at Technology High School in Newark serenaded students into the building on the first day of school.
"It's been a long time coming," said Edwin Reyes, Technology High School Principal.
For most students in the district, this is their first time in the classroom in more than 17 months of virtual and hybrid learning.
"Virtual learning was not for me," a student said.
And she's not the only one.
Now, there's a return to some sense of normalcy.
There are some new safety precautions added in.
"We have a four-step egress process," Reyes said. "The first step is to make sure students are screened."
That includes a temperature check and foot and hand sanitizing stations.
Plus, masks are required in all New Jersey schools.
Governor Phil Murphy has required full-time in-person instruction in all K-12 schools.
Some parents say it's the way to go.
"I think it's better they come back to school," a parent said.
"Practical class is better for him and better for us," another parent said.
An online petition with more than 26,000 signatures is calling on New Jersey to have a virtual option.
Newark Schools Superintendent Roger Leon talked of easing concerns.
"We are taking out time to make sure we are explaining what we are doing, how we are doing it," he said.
The governor has said all school employees must be fully vaccinated by October 18, or face weekly testing.
"The district is above 70%, so it seems as though we are in convert with what the government believes the science is saying," Leon said.
Meantime, Ida is still top of mind and impacting some school districts like in Elizabeth.
They will not start the new year school year until next Tuesday.
Officials say several school buildings in Elizabeth were damaged by floodwaters last week.
Several other school districts also changed their plans, including Paterson.
They opted to start the year remotely, and have delayed in-person learning until next Monday.
Cresskill Middle and High School in Bergen County will likely not reopen until 2022.