Freeport schools reopen online to prepare families for in-person return next week

Freeport and Westbury schools reopened Friday morning, but their first sessions of the new year were held online to get students ready for an in-person return next week.
Freeport students and parents logged on from home Friday for the first day of school, which is starting off completely virtual.
Everyone got a virtual tour of what learning during the pandemic will look like before in-person learning starts Tuesday. Changes include classrooms with fewer desks, new classrooms that have been adapted from other rooms, and some protective shields.
"The soft opening is a way to really have our families connect, our teachers and administrators connecting with every student in their class," says Freeport Schools Superintendent Dr. Kishore Kuncham.
Wendy Garcia has four children in Freeport's schools, with one who chose in-person learning. Being in the hallways will mean social distancing markers, hand-sanitizing stations and reminders around every corner about how to stay healthy.
"I finally got over the fear of exposing my children because I realize that each child is different and each child has their individual needs," says Garcia. "They were a little nervous, but they're kind of getting used to our new normal."
Kuncham says students who logged on from home wanted to know if they would have to wear their masks all the time while at school.
"Yes, you know we want you to, but there will be breaks, there will breaks that will be worked out," says Kuncham.
School leaders also say they have programs in place for students, parents, teachers and staff that focus on the social and emotional impact of learning during a pandemic.
Parents say they are glad for the chance to connect with teachers and see what reopening will look like.
"I feel more comfortable now because of everything the district has done to protect the children," says Garcia.
Freeport school leaders say all students from kindergarten through 12th grade have a device for remote learning. They also say the district has given out some hotspots in an effort to address the digital divide, along with that one-third of the students chose the all-remote learning option.