RICHARDSON, Texas (CBSDFW.COM) – Some of the youngest students in Richardson ISD returned for their first in-person day Tuesday.

For the Gutierrez family, it was the milestone day they had long anticipated.

“It’s not your first official day. First second day, but it’s still the first day of in-person,” said Viri Gutierrez, a mother of three.

The “first second day” marked an opportunity for close to 12,000 Richardson ISD students to meet their teachers and classmates face-to-face – many for the first time.

Richardson ISD students (CBS 11)

“Now they’re going to be able to see their friends that they’ve met over the iPad, and the teacher. They’re going to be able to go to recess,” said Gutierrez.

Superintendent Dr. Jeannie Stone said it was the culmination of six months of preparations.

“Our whole goal all along has been to have quality learning while we have risk mitigation protocols,” she said.

That meant everything from masks to signage, drop-off to social distancing – plus partitions for elementary students.

“Every student is assigned their own partition, which they can carry around, and it has their name on it, and it’s theirs for the whole day,” said Dr. Stone.

And even though school looks different this year, both district officials and parents say those “first second day” jitters felt something like a return to normal.

“When it arrives, when it goes so well, you’re a little bit surprised but so grateful,” said Dr. Stone.

“They were excited and just ready for today, and I was, too. I was excited for them. A little bit nervous, a little bit scared because those are my kids, but I know that they’re good,” said Gutierrez.

Pre-K through 6th grade and special education were the only RISD students to return to in-person on Tuesday.

Middle schoolers go back next Monday, and high schoolers on September 21.

RISD officials said for this first grading period, 53% of students have opted to go in-person and 47% will stay virtual.