LONG BEACH, Calif. (KABC) -- Backpacks and smiles were on as parents dropped their kids off at school on Tuesday.
Long Beach schools closed March of 2020 because of the pandemic, briefly returning this spring for the first time.
"I'm more excited for him. I've had him at home for over a year so as a parent you know, I'm going to get the tears driving off," said parent Tara Baca.
Everyone was required to wear a mask. Long Beach School Superintendent Jill Baker says families were told to check if their student had any COVID-19 symptoms before coming to school using a checklist. She also says most staff are vaccinated.
"We estimate that more than 80 percent of our staff at Long Beach unified have been vaccinated," shared Baker.
Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia along with the state Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond also stopped by Roosevelt Elementary school. Mayor Garcia says the city is close to 77 percent vaccinated
"We know that kids have to be back in the classroom. Kids learn best when they're in the class. I'm a former teacher I know that to be true," Garcia added.
Officials say there is a captain at each Long Beach school that will start the contact tracing process if someone does get COVID-19.
Staff has to show proof of vaccination or get weekly testing.
Officials say most of the 69,000 students returned to school and about 1,000 students will learn through a new independent study program that was designed for families who are not ready to send their kids for in person learning.
For parents like Tara, she says she's putting all of her trust in the school staff to follow regulations.
"I was very, very like scared of COVID like at first. I mean, I still am obviously but I always had him wear two masks sometimes," Baca said.