GARDEN CITY, L.I. — Schools across the region welcome back students for another year of learning this week.
Today, a majority of students kicked off a hybrid learning experience — a combination of either in person, online or a mix of both.
Garden City High School seniors embark on the final first day of high school, a different vibe all around for the upperclassmen who've been waiting their entire grade school education to get to this point.
It's a different kind of excitement, at the start of a historic school year amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
In Garden City, district leaders released a letter, reminding families that all students are required to self-screen for the virus every morning before coming to school.
A lengthy, 60-page reopening plan includes guidelines set forth by the New York State Education Department, impacting areas such as athletics, technology and building schedules.
The district installed desk shields, desks are spaced out and there’s an isolation room in case someone becomes sick. Even the cafeteria is split into two full size classrooms and lunch will be in a classroom setting, except for the high schoolers.
Masks are mandatory and disinfecting is part of the daily routine.
Garden City principal Kevin Steingruebner believes these measures are key to keeping nearly 4,000 students and 300 teachers safe.
“We want to make sure we continue to be in school as much as possible and the only way that’s going to happen is if everyone’s following the rules, wearing masks, social distancing, washing hands,” Steingruebner told PIX11 News.
Two Long Island school districts have already pushed back their start dates. Two students tested positive for COVID-19 in Carle Place School District and two employees tested positive in the Southhold School District. It's unclear when the districts will reopen their buildings.
In Garden City, senior Sarah Fetherston is confident the measures in place will keep her safe as the district does the best it can do, given the circumstances.
“The school has really been preparing all summer for this we’re ready, the school is so clean and everyone is so happy to be back,” she said.
While a majority of students in Garden City have returned to the classrooms, 200 have opted for remote learning.
District leaders say they’ll reassess the hybrid model should any COVID-19 clusters arise.