DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Thousands of Dallas Independent School District students have their backpacks packed and ready to go for the first day of school.

Governor Greg Abbott has prohibited schools from requiring face masks. Online classes won’t be offered. This comes as the delta variant continues to take its toll on North Texas.

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Right now, there are more than 2,000 COVID patients in area hospitals.

Despite the lack of mandates Abbott released a PSA encouraging families who are preparing to head back to school to get vaccinated.

“The COVID vaccine is the best defense we have against getting the COVID virus,” Abbott said. “You can even get your vaccine at many of the same stores where you can stock up on your school supplies.”

Dallas ISD Superintendent Dr. Michael Hinojosa says while administrators can’t make students wear masks, it is heavily encouraged in order to reduce the spread of the virus.

Monday morning students were greeted with cheers for their first day of school, but despite all of the excitement educators say they’re nervous about the potential spread of COVID-19.

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“I am apprehensive I’m going to be honest about that, “ Karla Dangerfield, a Kindergarten teacher, said.

Principal Natalie Crittendon says not having a mandate is challenging but she will keep the school as clean as she can to reduce the spread.

“What we are trying to do is make sure that we recommend the wearing of the masks for our students and our teachers, and we will continue those protocols of sanitizing, and cleaning, and make sure to try to implement social distancing as best as possible,” she said.

Crittendon says nearly 90% of her teachers are vaccinated and Karla Dangerfield is one of them. She’s a Kindergarten teacher and says she plans on wearing her mask to protect herself and urges others to do the same.

“It’s important that we play our part in what society will look like in the future,” Dangerfield said.

Adelle Turner Elementary School is one of forty-one schools that have adopted an intersession calendar, so students have more personalized attention in smaller groups.

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The majority of Dallas ISD students head back to school next week.

Kennedi Walker