Garden City parents and students complete long-awaited first day of school
From mandatory masks to temperature scans, it was a very different first day back for students and staff across Long Island.
For the thousands who had their first lessons of the 2020-21 school year, some were online, while others were back inside their schools.
There was a feeling of excitement in the air at Hemlock School in Garden City. A fence filled with inspiring messages was on display from incoming students.
And after their first day in the new school year, happy kids came running out of the school into their parents' arms.
"It was good ... I saw all my friends!" said first grader Anne Wrieden.
At the Hemlock School, it was Principal Audrey Bellovin's 31st first day. She says things went smoothly, but now it's time to look ahead to the rest of the year.
"Really just get into a routine. And make sure we figure out how to get mask breaks in. Figure out how to hand wash and do it as efficiently as possible so we can get onto the learning," says Bellovin.
Parents, especially those with kindergarteners, spent the whole day nervously awaiting to hear how things went.
"I'm just glad that she's going to have a little bit of a schedule and a little bit of normalcy returning into her life," says Maria Kanes.
"I'm really excited that they made it such a positive and happy welcoming experience coming in. They really went above and beyond to try to make the kids feel special," says Juliet Acquavito.
Even with all of the new safety protocols in place because of COVID-19, one father says it's more emotional for the parents than the kids.
"I think the children are so adaptable and my daughter was a trooper. There was never an issue. She was excited," says Brad Wolk.