NEWARK, N.J. (PIX11) – Thirty-eight thousand students are back in the classroom in Newark, New Jersey’s largest school district where masks are mandatory.

While this is the fourth school year students will have to wear a face covering, Superintendent Roger León said it may not be required much longer, according to the data.

“We are almost at the same stage to be able to say that masks are optional. We are looking forward in the coming weeks to be able to announce that,” León said.

In Paterson, New Jersey, public school students head back to the classroom Wednesday. They will notice increased safety measures, but not just against COVID-19.

“We want to have the students in the classroom. We want students and staff to be safe, not only safe from a virus but safe from violence. You are going to see more of a police presence around some of these schools, and if they request extra attention, we will accommodate these schools.” said Paterson Mayor Andre Sayegh.

Like many districts across the country, New Jersey schools are working to fill teacher positions. Newark has 80 teacher vacancies right now. Paterson has more than 120 and will host two job fairs a month to close the gap.