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Revere Students Return To School With Mask Mandate, Full In-Person Learning

REVERE (CBS) -- For the first time in over a year, students at all 11 schools in Revere are eating lunch in their school cafeterias.

Their first day back at school comes as the state is expected to announce a statewide school mask mandate.

Emotions ran the gamut at one elementary school Wednesday morning, as students returned to the building.

"I woke up at five. I was really excited," said one student.

All the excitement and nerves that come along with the first day of school are amplified this year as students come back to the classroom after learning remotely for so long.

"I feel nervous and a little scared," said another student. "Just because we haven't been at school for a while."

Dianne Kelly, Superintendent of Revere Public Schools, says they hired more teachers to make class sizes smaller and will have regular COVID testing to make returning to full, in-person learning as safe as possible.

"I know there are some people who wish we still had a remote option, but we just  weren't able to make that work and we do feel like having kids in person is the most critical part of their growth right now," said Kelly.

The district is also requiring all staff and students to wear masks.

The state Education Commissioner plans to put a mandate in place requiring all staff and students K-through-12 to wear masks indoors regardless of vaccination status.

On October 1, the mandate will be lifted for middle and high school students if the school has a vaccination rate of at least 80 percent. But unvaccinated students will still have to wear mask. In Billerica, some parents protested.

"I believe it's a choice, and it shouldn't be mandated," said one parent.

In hard-hit Revere, the Mayor Brian Arrigo says their mandate will likely stick around past October.

"If we get to that 80 percent level, we can have that conversation. But I expect we'll continue to wear a mask," said Arrigo.

There are some exceptions for students under the age of five, and for those who can't wear one for medical reasons or behavior needs.

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