NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Tens of thousands of New York City public school students returned to the classroom Monday for the first time in more than a year.

As CBS2’s Natalie Duddridge reported, it was the second chance for parents and kids to opt back in to in-person learning this school year.

READ MORE: New York City Public School Sports Teams May Allow Spectators

There were some nerves and excitement at PS 64 Robert Simon in the East Village.

“I’m feeling excited and nervous at the same time,” one student named Jonathan said.

“We’re all excited that he’s back with his friends physically, and not have to be over a computer,” said his father, Manuel Chapin.

He was one of the 51,000 students who went back to class citywide Monday — part of the second round to opt-in, after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced the distance between students could be reduced from 6 to 3 feet, allowing smaller schools to accommodate more students.

“It’s pretty good, because I want to go back to work, and she’s excited to go back to school. She hasn’t been in school since March 2020,” mother Marilu Dias said.

“I like going inside school, because I can make new friends,” said third grader Almari.

In total, nearly 400,000 students have returned to in-person learning. But with a million students citywide, that means there are still 600,000 learning remote.

READ MORE: FBI Doubles Reward For Information In Acid Attack On Hofstra Student Nafiah Ikram

Schools Chancellor Meisha Ross Porter said officials are working to get every student safely into the classroom in the fall.

“We have to honor where families are at this moment and continue to built trust, show them what’s happening in our amazing schools, get them back for the summer,” she said.

The city also announced a free summer school program Monday for all students K-12. It will be five days a week for six weeks to help kids catch up and support parents getting back to work.

“To me, it’s a big difference. With three kids attending remote learning, it was quite difficult,” said Madeline Hernandez.

“I feel like we have to start to think differently about schools. That’s the one thing the pandemic taught us,” Ross Porter said. “The moment between teachers and kids in classrooms — there’s nothing, there’s no device that will replace that.”

Staff have to fill out daily health screenings, and students must remain distanced and consent to regular testing.

Officials said if there are four of more positive COVID cases in different classrooms within a week, the building will close for 10 days.

MORE NEWS: Gov. Kathy Hochul 'Aggressively' Pushing For COVID Vaccination Sites At Schools

Learn more about the city’s Summer Rising program and sign up by clicking here.

Natalie Duddridge