Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) announced Monday, Aug. 10 in a release that 107 school districts have not yet submitted their reopening plans to the state and have a Friday deadline to submit or face no in-person learning this fall. However, local districts claim they had already filed their plans and that the state had confirmed receipt.
The governor’s release stated that multiple school districts, including Rocky Point, Mount Sinai, Comsewogue, Longwood and Middle Country had not sent their reopening plans yet. This is despite these districts having already presented plans on their websites for residents to peruse.
Rocky Point Superintendent Scott O’Brien said in a letter to parents that the district had indeed submitted its plan before the original deadline of July 31, and the state had confirmed receipt.
“We have contacted the New York State Department of Education regarding this matter and are working to ensure our district’s plans are in good standing, as was previously indicated, and that Rocky Point UFSD is removed from the list,” O’Brien said in the letter.
Comsewogue had already put its reopening information on its website before the July 31 deadline. In a letter to parents, Superintendent Jennifer Quinn confirmed they already had an email in-hand confirming the state received their plan. Quinn also said they asked that the state remove them from the list of 107 schools.
“We have contacted the New York State Education Department regarding this matter and resubmitted our district’s plans along with the original submission receipt,” the Comsewogue superintendent said.
In a statement, Senior Advisor to the Governor Rich Azzopardi said districts had not sent plans to the state Department of Health.
“The list of districts that didn’t file a plan with the state Department of Health is accurate,” Azzopardi said. “Despite clear guidance provided to these schools, which included a link to the DOH portal, some districts in follow-up calls said they filed with the State Education Department — which is not an executive agency — but didn’t file with DOH. Others filled out an affirmation certifying that they would be abiding by the state’s reopening guidance, but didn’t actually submit their plan, something many of these districts are now rectifying.”
Yet other district officials said it was still the state’s mistake. Mount Sinai Superintendent Gordon Brosdal said in an email that “the Department of Health made the error. We confirmed.”
“Like Rocky Point we received an email from the New York State Department Of Education confirming our submission on July 31,” Brosdal added. “This error unnecessarily upset the community. I immediately received concerned phone calls.”
As of Monday evening, New York State has not updated the list on its website.
Cuomo again restated that reopening plans depend on the willingness of both parents and teachers in communication with schools.
“The main arbiter here of whether a school district has an intelligent plan to reopen and whether people have confidence in that district’s plan — It’s going to be the parents and it’s going to be the teachers, and that requires discussion, and that’s going to be a dialogue,” the governor said in the release.
This comes amongst a host of questions that residents have flooded their districts about reopening plans. Parents in Rocky Point have started a Change.org petition for Rocky Point to create a distance learning option for parents who do not want their children in school.
On Mount Sinai’s website, the district has released a short Q&A with Brosdal which said the school’s board of education “has agreed to provide remote learning to those parents who are reluctant to send their children to school at this time.” The district is asking all parents to submit to the district whether their child will be attending in September. The district will be putting up a new Q&A every week, according to its website.
“Parents should be aware that if they choose to opt-out their child from attending in September, the window for returning to school would open in January, the beginning of the second semester,” the superintendent said in the Q&A. “Although remote instruction will be provided, we still believe that nothing replaces in person instruction and interaction with a teacher.”