In keeping with a Massapequa School District tradition, the second day of school was actually the first day of school for kindergartners, who arrived at the six elementary schools on Sept. 9 eager to learn and ready to make new friends. Many were guided by their older brothers and sisters while others became the first of their siblings to start school. Outside of the buildings were welcome signs and sidewalk chalk messages. Teachers enthusiastically greeted the kindergartners, the future Massapequa High School Class of 2033.
A school setting during the pandemic that seems unusual to older students may feel more normal to kindergartners who begin their 13-year school career wearing masks, sitting behind desk barriers and having classmates learning from home. There are numerous precautions in place to keep them healthy and safe throughout the school day including some socially distant mask breaks.
Fairfield Elementary kindergarten teacher, Mary Lynn McCauley said she feels glad to finally be back in the classroom once again.
“It certainly is great being back at school with my colleagues and, most importantly, with the children,” she said. “I really missed everyone and everything about being in the classroom. There is nothing that can take the place of having the children in front of me and being able to interact with them in real-time.”
Due to the pandemic, the normal routine has turned into a new routine amongst schools of every grade. McCauley said this is a time that can prove challenging for everyone.
“Many adjustments had to be made for the safety of the children and their families, as well as the faculty and staff in our school,” she said. “Change is difficult under any circumstance, but you make those adjustments and get used to new routines and, day by day, things get easier. As a teacher of very young children, I am really amazed at how well the children have adapted.”
Schools across Nassau are continuing to provide students and staff with the proper equipment and a new learning atmosphere. As a result, McCauley said there were a lot of adjustments that had to be made to match the new school routine.
“I think the biggest adjustment for me, especially as a kindergarten teacher, is not being able to have the children gather on the rug to read to them,” she said. “I miss the connection one feels when they are listening to a story up close and being able to see all the details in the pictures. However, we have come up with clever ways to create these experiences. We scan books and project them on the Smart Board and are sure to give the children plenty of opportunities to discuss the stories.”
The virus has disrupted many lives, including school children and those who teach them. She said her biggest hope is for everyone to follow the rules so that the school district can remain open.
“My hopes for the new school year are to continue to deliver the level of instruction that live teaching inside the classroom provides,” McCauley said. “I hope that everyone continues to take the necessary steps to help stop the spread of this horrible virus, allowing us to stay in the classroom for the remainder of the school year. My hopes for my students are that they feel that our school is a safe and happy place to be each day. I want them to feel comfortable and begin their school career with a love of learning.”
—Additional information provided by The Massapequa School District