NEWARK, NJ (PIX11) — Tuesday marks the first day of school for some students across the tri-state area, including in New Jersey’s largest city.

Public school students are headed back to the classroom in Newark, where, once again, they’ll be required to wear masks to combat COVID-19.

The mask mandate in Newark has been in place since the beginning of the pandemic and officials say it’s not going anywhere because it’s one of the best ways to keep students safe right now.

As of August 23, 95% of city school staff members in Newark were fully vaccinated. But that figure is nowhere near as high when it comes to the students.

Only 4% of students between the ages of 5 and 11 are fully vaccinated. The number rises to 5% for those between the ages of 12 and 15, but actually drops to just 3% for 16- and 17-year-olds.

Newark’s public school system, like many nationwide, is also facing a shortage of teachers, which could contribute to overcrowded classrooms.

The city has taken steps to remedy that problem. As of last month, it has hired 600 new teachers, and the base salary for new teachers has been raised from $55,000 to $62,000.