YAPHANK, Long Island (WABC) -- With CDC studies finding the spread of COVID-19 diminished in schools that followed proper precautions, a district on Long Island wants to bring back more students to the classrooms.
In fact, the Longwood School District in Suffolk County is now doubling its in-person learning this week as part of a three-week phase.
A few months ago, doubling their in-person learning time would have felt like moving mountains.
The district is one of the first in Suffolk County to welcome students back inside their schools four days a week, instead of just two.
Grades 2, 5 and kindergarten began the doubled time in school this week while other grades will follow this week and next, including all of the high school.
The superintendent says 78% of the families are now confident enough to send their kids back.
"Monday was like, for so many of our students and staff, the opening of the school in September," said Longwood Schools Superintendent Dr. Michael Lonergan.
Especially for students like 2nd-grader Declan, who has been all remote learning since 1st grade.
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"He was very excited to see his friends in gym, that he hasn't seen since March, so that was the very first thing he told me when he got home," his mother Amanda McCann said.
Longwood was hoping to make the change back in November, but the holiday spike in COVID cases made it impossible. Dozens of students and staff were testing positive after the break.
As of this week, that positivity number is a third of what it was as COVID cases throughout the area have been going down.
But more importantly, there is no indication of any significant spread of COVID within the schools. That was reinforced this week by the CDC.
For Longwood senior Robert Lennon, an honors student applying to top schools, doubling the time in school will mean the world.
But he says it's the friendships he misses most and he doesn't get to see his best friend anymore other than through FaceTime.
"And it's easy as adults to say, 'OK, eventually it will happen,' but, you don't get these days back," Lonergan said.
Lennon's grade phases into the new plan in another week. The real question now is will other districts soon follow.
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