Students return to school—but just to pick up belongings

Sidratul Naba held back tears as she picked up her supplies and personal belongings from her school on Tuesday. Never would she have imagined that her last days as a fifth-grader at Edith L. Slocum Elementary School in Ronkonkoma would end like this.

"I can't see my teachers," she said. "I can't say goodbye. I don't like it."

Classrooms packed up prematurely as the 2019–2020 school year came to an abrupt end due to the coronavirus pandemic. It was hard not only for students but for staff, too.

"You leave work one day thinking you're going to come back to school and everything will be normal and everything just gets shut down," principal John Delio said.

The halls and walls are frozen in time. The whiteboard in Dina Pinelli's fourth-grade class still has the homework assignment from the last day kids were in class. Pinelli said distance even more so.

"When you're walking down the hallway, you know that it's May but the hallway and classroom say March 13," she said.

Normally, students would be the ones to pack their stuff up at the end of the school year but teachers put everything in bags for them. Parents took turns picking it up, making it emotional for everyone.

"It's emotional for a parent to see your kids go through this," one parent said. "It's a lot."

And the strange end to the school year isn't limited to one district. South Huntington is counting down the days until it is safe to bring the students and staff back inside.

"I think we all look forward to a time when our students and teachers back in the class that's the normal we're looking for," Superintendent Dave Bennardo said.

For many, the feeling is mutual.


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