BALTIMORE (WJZ) —  For the first time in 16 months, tens of thousands of backpacks have been packed and students are leaving their homes to attend school in person.

In the Rife-Tighe family, their youngest son is four years old and he started pre-kindergarten on Monday in Baltimore City.

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The older boys participated in a question and answer with their mom about their return to school.

Emmett Rife is in fourth grade. This is a portion of the conversation he had with his mother Chelsea Tighe.

“How long has it been since you’ve been in school in person?” Tighe asked. Emmett responded by saying it’s been “extremely long.”

When asked how he felt about wearing masks, the fourth-grader said ” I mean I don’t feel good about it, but as long as we’re going back it’s fine.”

According to Baltimore City public schools’ website, the district has bout 77,800 students enrolled.

A spokesperson in Baltimore County said that the district has approximately 111,000 students enrolled.

Howard County’s website lists its enrollment at a little more than 57, 200. All of the aforementioned districts returned to in person learning on Monday and masks will be required in all three districts.

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Over in Baltimore County, the Epps household was very busy too.

“Now I have kids in every level of school except for college,” said Courtney Epps “So we’re elementary, middle and high school. So our morning starts at 6 a.m. and we have to get the high schoolers off first.”

Epps said one of her children lives close enough to walk to school but she will be driving that son to school instead of allowing him to walk. Epps said the car drop-off line was extremely long, although it’s not clear if that’s an indication that parents are hesitant to allow their children to ride the bus.

In Howard County, the Howe family has a mother and daughter who are both returning to school.

Lucy Howe will be starting tenth grade and her mother, Emily Howe, is an elementary school teacher.

” I went back hybrid in the spring but the last time I guess you could say [I was] really in the building was March 2020,” said Lucy who also said she is excited to return to school.

For many parents, back to school for the students also means a return to a more predictable work schedule.

One of Chelsea Tighe’s young sons asked, “What are you going to be doing all day while we’re in school?”

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“I’m going to be working in peace and quiet after a year and a half,” Tighe answered with a smile.

Ava-joye Burnett