Kids back in class at one Long Island school district, precautions in place

It was an exciting first day of school for Katelyn Son. The 10-year-old 5th-grader was greeted by her mom at dismissal at George A. Jackson Elementary in Jericho in Nassau County.

"I could see my friends and teachers and it's a lot of fun," Katelyn said.

 "We are excited too," Katelyn's mom, Seojin Son, said. "The kids are excited, the parents always excited."

Jericho is the first district on Long Island to start classes, while most local schools don't begin until at least next week. It's also 100% in-person learning here this year, with everyone wearing masks.

"I do fencing so I'm used to it because I have to wear two masks and it was very fun going back to school because it's way harder to learn if I'm on the computer," Aphrodite, 8, said. 

"For the kids, because they didn't get vaccinated yet, so it's for the safety, wearing a mask inside," Seojin Son said.

Principal Alex Rivera is proud to see the kids back. Just one year ago, half the Jackson student body was remote.

"When the children arrive each morning they have to complete a family health check for their child to make sure they are fever-free, symptom-free," Rivera said. "We practice distancing, we practice hand sanitizing, hand-washing, and most important thing is the masks."

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Each class is strongly ventilated and more teachers were hired this year to make class sizes smaller. 

Physical ed teacher James Woska, who was my teacher at Jackson about 25 years ago, told us another change is that masks can now come off outdoors.

"When we're outside, now they can take them off, so it's fortunate they get to run a mile again taking their mask off," Woska said. "We get to increase everything that we missed out on last year," said 

Even though this school district started early, it will end at the same time as most Long Island schools. The reason for the early start is due to the increased number of holidays that the Jericho school district observes.