UNIONDALE, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — The number of COVID-19 cases across New York State continues to drop, but Long Island has the dubious distinction of ranking number one in new positives.

Vaccination sites popped up in Nassau and Suffolk counties on Friday. Some are for teachers and school staff only.

READ MORE: New York City Public Schools To Increase COVID Testing, Relax Quarantine Rules

Slowly, many schools are returning to some in-person learning, and teachers getting vaccinated is a big reason why.

Among those teachers is Frank Luisi, from Oceanside High.

“It is going to build a stronger feeling, and that’s going to get to the kids, too, that we can overcome this,” Luisi told CBS2’s Jennifer McLogan.

COVID VACCINE

More vaccination sites are being earmarked for teachers, like one in Rockville Centre.

“We have vaccinated thousands of teachers, but there are tens of thousands of teachers … When kids are in school, parents get to go to work,” Nassau County Health Commissioner Dr. Lawrence Eisenstein said.

The county is partnering with Mount Sinai South Nassau.

“Why is that important for us? We realize as soon as we can get our teachers vaccinated, that ensures in-person education for all students,” said Dr. Adhi Sharma.

READ MORE: Pfizer Says COVID Vaccine Safe, Effective For Kids Ages 5 To 11

The state provides a report card to peruse positive cases in each school district.

Uniondale, which had more than its share, hosted another pop-up vaccination site.

Following a surge in vaccine availability for teachers and staff in Uniondale, the district, where 90% of students have been in remote learning, will open Monday for sixth and ninth graders.

CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC

Superintendents across Long Island say confidence and safety among teachers and students this spring bodes well for the fall.

“Tremendous going into the fall to feel like they’re back within their own rhythm, to feel protected,” said June Chang, superintendent of Rockville Centre Schools.

“We’re very excited. We’re working on getting the rest of the students back and just feel safer overall,” said Johanna Appel, a teacher at Island Park Elementary School.

Important for vaccination, testing and COVID protocols. Long Island still tops other regions for the highest rate of new positive cases.

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School districts on Long Island expect to continue with masks, desk distance and all other COVID protocols well into next year.

Jennifer McLogan