JERICHO, N.Y. - For some, it's the bell that rings the sound of back to school. For others, it's exchanging hugs and high-fives for the first time since summer.
School is back in session for the more than 3,000 students in the Jericho school district in Nassau County who are being met with hopefully a more normal year with fewer COVID-19 mandates and not as many masks.
"I don't remember being this excited about the first day of school in many, many years," Superintendent Hank Grishman said.
Long gone are the days of social distancing, desk dividers and daily testing. For the first time in nearly two years, field trips are back. And masks are optional on buses.
"I wore a mask for most of last year," senior Madison Grady said. "Without a mask for the first time, seeing everyone's faces, it felt a lot more normal this year."
The majority of students and staff are going maskless, looking forward to the little things that made school special before the pandemic.
Under relaxed state guidelines, those who test positive for COVID still have to isolate for five days but can return to classes on Day 6 if they are symptom-free. Steps in the right direction of what's now defined as the new normal.
Some students in other districts across Long Island will return to the classroom this week. The rest will head back after Labor Day.