NEW YORK — For freshman Zira Nunez, the last four months of remote learning felt like being on lockdown.

“I was home for so long when I come outside my eyes are like not used to the sun -- I’m used to being in four walls,” she said. “It was hard at first and then I started going outside more just to practice coming back to school and stuff."

She was one of the students lining up for their first day back at the Bronx School for Law, Government and Justice. It marked the first time high schools are open for students since November, when they shut down as coronavirus cases climbed.

"Now I'm with my classmates and teachers and get to have conversations with people instead of on the phone,” she said.

Students were greeted with elbow bumps from Mayor Bill de Blasio and Schools Chancellor Meisha Porter. It was a homecoming for Porter, who helped found this high school and once served as principal.

And of course it was also a homecoming for the students.

“You do miss seeing your friends. As much as we kids like to complain about school, we do kind of need it. And it’s great to be back here,” senior Andrew Silverio said.

De Blasio and Porter dropped in on classes where students were discussing the recent spate of crimes targeting Asian Americans around the nation, including here in the city.

"Probably people would say this is one of the more tolerant and open places in the country and yet we're still having this problem which is very very frustrating,” he told the students.

After his visit, the mayor delivered some good news to public school principals: the city will not cut budgets at schools that lost enrollment this year. In a regular school year the cuts are a normal adjustment. During a pandemic, those cuts would have hit some schools especially hard.

"We will now return to these schools the money that would have had to give back to the DOE budget. That's $130 million that now will be returned to these 877 schools. We will make them whole,” he said.

The mayor says the federal stimulus bill helped make that possible.

He also announced that a new opt-in period for students to switch from remote learning to in-class instruction will open on Wednesday, and will run for two weeks. All students can sign up to opt in, but the city will first bring back elementary school students. The mayor says the plan is for elementary students who opt in to be back in classrooms sometime next month.