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Schools: The New Normal | Classes Back In Session At Greater Oaks Charter School On Lower East Side, 'This Is About To Be Different'

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) - New York City public schools won't be returning to in-person classes until Sept. 21, but that's not the case for all the schools in New York City.

New safety precautions are in place in both public and charter school classrooms.

Students are adapting to the changes, and are happy to finally get back to class.

School is already in session at the Greater Oaks Charter School on the Lower East Side.

High fives are replaced with elbow bumps and things look a little different: Classes are cut in half, everyone must wear masks, follow safe social distancing rules and hand sanitation stations are everywhere. But for the 6th-8th grade students like Josiah Wells Williams, their enthusiasm for learning hasn't changed.

"I love education. And I love learning. So I was happy to come to school," he told CBS2's Hazel Sanchez.

Principal Timberly Wilson gave Sanchez a tour.


"We surveyed our families and we responded to their needs," Wilson said.

She said many families wanted their children back in school, but many had coronavirus concerns. Enrollment dropped from about 300 to 260, and 60% chose full remote learning while 40% chose blended.

Every morning, in-person learners and faculty must answer a health app survey to be cleared to enter school.

COMPLETE COVERAGE: Schools: The New Normal

"We have done everything possible to make sure that our kids are safe, our kids are learning, they're engaged," Wilson said.

Students must clean their work space before and after class. Remote learners are projected live on the wall.

Teacher Cecily Robinson says she and her students are adjusting well.

CORONAVIRUS: NY Health Dept. | NY Call 1-(888)-364-3065 | NYC Health Dept. | NYC Call 311, Text COVID to 692692 | NJ COVID-19 Info Hub | NJ Call 1-(800)-222-1222 or 211, Text NJCOVID to 898211 | CT Health Dept. | CT Call 211 | Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

"When you let them know, look, this Is about to be different. They are rising to the occasion. and I expect nothing less," she said.

"I feel that the teachers are always gonna be there for me and that they know how to protect us," said eighth grader Amelia Sutherland.

Students say staggered dismissals and bathroom monitors making sure they wash their hands take some getting used to.

BACK-TO-SCHOOL: Experts Offer Tips On How To Help Children Deal With Anxiety As They Return To School Learning In The Coronavirus Era

Lizaida Lopez, an eighth grader, says she misses the way some things used to be.

"Like, when I walked in, some of my friends were there and I did want to give them a hug," she said.

But they're all comforted in knowing the precautions in place will one day allow them to embrace their old way of life.

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