SALEM, MASS. (WHDH) - Schools across the Bay State are taking precautions as they welcome back students from winter break amid a COVID-19 surge.

In Salem, Superintendent Stephen Zrike Jr. is encouraging students to eat outside if the weather is about 20 degrees or higher.

He also is asking that windows remain open in all cafeterias and classrooms regardless of outdoor temperature to allow for airflow across indoor spaces.

Zrike asked parents and guardians in a letter to dress their children appropriately.

The state Education Committee is set to hold a virtual hearing to discuss everything from classroom temperatures to the school mask mandate, which is currently in place through Jan. 15.

The committee is set to hear testimony that would require masks indoors for those ages 2 years and older at child care programs and in K-12 schools through June 30.

While some parents are choosing to keep their kids home, others feel they’ve taken the necessary precautions and that their children belong in the classroom.

“I said, ‘You know what? It’s worth the risk,'” said Esther Cohen, a mother in Natick. “We’re vaccinated, we’re masked, we’re going to my in-laws who are boosted and we want to see our family in California, so if I was going to go on a plane, why not send them to school?”

Gov. Charlie Baker continues to stress that he believes in-person learning is the best option for students and that he is continuing to offer support to school districts.

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