Education

Rocky Point Superintendent Scott O'Brien. File photo from Scott O'Brien

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.”

 

Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) addressed those gathered about his goals for the 2019 Legislative session. Photo by Sara-Megan Walsh

Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) said the morning of Aug. 7 that all regions in New York are given the green light to reopen in the fall.

The governor said he based the decision off of the infection rate in each region in the state. Much of New York has been hovering around a 1 percent infection rate for the past several weeks. 

Cuomo previously said if the infection rate in any region breaches 5 percent the state would immediately order schools’ closure.

“You look at the infection rate — we are probably in the best situation in the country,” Cuomo said during a media call Friday. 

Most school districts submitted reopening plans by the deadline of July 31. Some, like South Huntington and Northport-East Northport, submitted their plans after being granted an extension. Many have come forward with hybrid plans at at least some grade levels, meaning students will spend a few days in school and then the rest of the week learning from home. Some parents have criticized districts like Three Village for deciding on a full-time schedule for all grade levels. Other parents in districts like Smithtown have rallied for children to be back in school full time.

Still, Cuomo has said multiple times that each school district’s reopening plan is dependent on the district officials in communion with parents and teachers, saying “this is not a bureaucratic decision, this is a parental decision.” 

However, there were still many questions left open over what policies districts can hold, especially regarding the safety of teachers. Yesterday, Aug. 6, teachers union New York State United Teachers put out a news release calling for any school to close if any one individual in a school that tests positive should mean an immediate 14-day closure. The release also requested specific answers to how districts should conduct quarantining of potential cases and contact tracing.

The governor largely left the questions of those two elements up to individual school districts, though state Department of Health guidelines do mandate school districts conduct testing of symptomatic students. They also mandate people to wear masks when they are unable to socially distance at six feet, and if a student does not have a mask, the district is mandated to provide one.

“I can’t fashion a plan that would work in every school district because the circumstances are too different,” he said during the media call.“

Though school districts are mandated to take the temperature of every student that comes through its doors, the fear of asymptomatic spread, of the virus infecting people from carriers, is still a big concern. Cuomo called that a continuing “conversation.”

The tenor of the governor’s announcement revolved around the notion that parents, teachers and districts all had to agree to the plans. The next few weeks, Cuomo said, should be spent in even more discussion amongst the community to try and reach more common ground.

“I believe in New Yorkers, and New Yorkers will do it and they can decide how they will do it,” he said.

 

Stock photo

People are using too much hand sanitizer. That’s one of several observations from Sharon Nachman, chief of the Division of Pediatric Infectious Diseases at Stony Brook Children’s Hospital.

Sharon Nachman of SBU’s pediatrics department. Photo from SBU

Nachman suggests that sanitizer requires only a small amount on people’s hands. If, after applying it, someone has wet and sticky hands, they have overdone it.

“When I see people using hand sanitizer, they glop it on,” Nachman said in an interview. She recommends not using more than the standard volume, even amidst a return to school during the ongoing fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a wide-ranging conversation about the health of students who are returning to campus, Nachman urged students to pay closer attention to their health, to keep themselves and their classmates safe.

Students can tell if they’re too close to each other if they both reach out and can touch each other’s fingers.

The signs of COVID-19 in older teenagers and young 20-somethings are similar to the ones that occur in adults. They include fever, fatigue, feeling ill, loss of taste, and dry coughs. College students also have a high rate of being asymptomatic, which makes it difficult to find and isolate sick students.

While multi-symptom inflammatory disease in children, or MSI-C, cropped up during the worst of the pandemic in Suffolk County, the overall numbers of cases and infection rate on Long Island have fallen enough to reduce the likelihood of this COVID-related illness among children.

“Its all about how big the hit is in the community,” she said. “If you go to Texas or Florida, they are clearly seeing it. On Long Island, we aren’t seeing it” because of the way residents have helped flatten the infection curve among the population.

Nachman urged college students to be responsible when a contact tracer reaches out to them. In college campuses throughout the country, contact tracing will help mitigate the spread of the infection by quarantining people who might have been exposed to an active form of the virus. Isolating people will keep the spread of the virus in check.

Students, faculty and university administrators are well aware of the possibility that schools will need to return to an all-remote education model if infections reach a high enough level. Indeed, Nachman urged students to develop a plan for what they would pack and take home and where they would go if campuses closed. By being prepared for change, students can react to altered circumstances. High school students also need such preparation, in case any school that open need to close to protect students, faculty and staff.

As for the potential overlap of the flu and COVID, Nachman suggested students should get the flu shot by October, before the flu season begins.

Nachman is an advocate for masks.

“The smartest thing people can do is really wearing their masks,” she said. “Come to college prepared with enough masks that you can wash and wear them.”

The ideal number of masks is nothing fewer than two per day. She likes the washable ones, which are easy to put in the laundry and wash with the rest of a student’s clothing. The two-ply cloth masks work well and can be “personalized to reflect someone’s mood, to match clothing or to make a statement.”

Masks are important not only to protect other members of the student body, but also to protect the wearer.

“This idea that I’m wearing it to protect you is half right,” she said. “It’s protection for both of us.”

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The Mount Sinai School District released its preliminary reopening plans July 31, and though documents state the district would prefer to have all students in school five days a week, it has instead put forward a hybrid model for all students in grades 1 through 12.

Documents state that Mount Sinai simply does not have the building space to comply with New York State guidelines on remaining six feet apart. All students will be put into two cohorts separately in the elementary, middle and high schools. Cohorts will be alphabetically based in order to keep students in the same family going in at the same time.

Monday through Tuesday and Thursday through Friday will be taken up by one of the two cohorts, and all students will share Wednesday for remote learning.

Meanwhile, students in kindergarten will be able to attend in-person four days a week, with remote learning one day a week. In the elementary school, each room will need to be thoroughly disinfected in between cohorts usage.

Students in special education which normally learn in “self-contained classrooms” will be able to attend in-person instruction four days a week, with remote learning one day a week.

Kindergarteners will be assigned to classrooms of 18 to 20 on average, which the district said it should be able to do with current accommodations. For Grades 1 through 4, students will be placed into cohorts of 10 to 15 students depending upon the physical size of the classroom. This will be accomplished by taking a traditional classroom of 20 to 25 students and splitting into two groups alphabetically. The elementary school will prevent intermingling across cohorts by limiting movement of the cohort throughout the day. The only movement of the cohort will be to lunch and potentially physical education. Faculty may travel in and out of the classroom for art and music instruction.

During remote learning, the district said attendance will be taken through Google Classroom recording a student’s logon. Remote learning may consist of synchronous, with a teacher present live online, and asynchronous instruction dependent upon the course or teacher.

Teachers are also expected to communicate with parents weekly, for elementary students, and biweekly for parents with kids in the middle and high school.

In order to attempt to maintain social distancing, the district will put signage and markings on the floor to designate traffic in the hallways and for standing on lines in places like the cafeteria.

Cohorts in the middle and high school will be broken up into last names starting with A through Kh and Ki through Z. Music lessons will be created within each cohort group. Students will also be assigned one of several doorways in each building to both enter and exit the school, and no student is allowed to use their gym or hallway locker, and they will often rely on online textbooks.

Upon arrival, students that do not have the required proof of temperature from home will be directed to a screening area. The district will conduct temperature checks outside the building at a designated location upon arrival via touchless thermometers. If the student has a temperature above 100 degrees, the nurse will be called by radio to escort the student to isolation waiting room for pick up.

The district’s survey showed that out of 1,085 responses, 86 percent said they would send their children to school for in-person instruction in the fall. 66.5 percent said they would need to use buses for transportation.

Still, some number of respondents said they would require district help. Approximately 112 respondents said their child does not have access to a computer, tablet or laptop for use in the online component.

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Ward Melville High School. Photo by Greg Catalano

The Three Village Central School District is considering additional feedback from parents on how the new school year will look.

In a letter dated Aug. 2, Superintendent Cheryl Pedisich said while recommended plans submitted to the state July 31 called for Three Village schools to open in-person Monday through Friday, after feedback from parents it was decided that a new parent survey would be offered “to gain a benchmark understanding of how many families would be interested in a potential remote learning option for students.” The option would be in addition to the proposed plan and would be subject to the approval of the New York State Education Department and Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D).

The first reopening survey sent to parents and guardians was fielded between July 10 and 17. The district received 2,328 responses, which is a 66 percent response rate. Out of the 2,328 anonymous respondents who represent 3,734 students, 22 percent said they would be extremely comfortable with students returning to schools, 30 percent comfortable, 19 percent neither, 17 percent uncomfortable and 12 percent extremely uncomfortable. The survey also asked parents other questions including how they felt their children handled remote learning the last few months of the 2019-20 academic year, how they were doing emotionally and if parents worked in or out of the home. Out of the families who responded, 49 percent said all caregivers work outside of the home, 34 percent responded at least one person worked from home and at least 17 percent indicated that one will be home and not working.

“As has been said throughout this process, there is no one-sized-fits-all plan to resume instruction this fall and many uncertainties still remain, as the ultimate decision on how, when, and, if schools reopen in September will be rendered by Governor Cuomo this week,” Pedisich wrote in the Aug. 2 letter.

She added in the letter the goal of the proposed reopening plan was to develop one “that is both educationally sound and safe for our families and staff — and that process continues to be a fluid one, as there are many external factors that will contribute to our ability to resume full in-person instruction as planned.”

Pedisich recognized that families face different circumstances as far as their comfort level with students returning to school, especially for those with immunocompromised family members

When the recommended reopening plan, that would require students, teachers and staff to report to school Monday through Friday was unveiled July 31, the district, which has almost 6,000 students, received criticism from a large number of parents.

Those opposed to a five-day, in-person plan created the Facebook page 3V in Support of Remote Learning. At press time, the group had nearly 300 members. Some have suggested asynchronous learning where teachers record lessons for students to watch when they can. Others have pointed toward neighboring school district, Smithtown Central, where a hybrid model is being proposed where 50 percent of students will attend school Monday and Tuesday or Thursday and Friday and alternate Wednesdays. There is also a remote option being offered at Smithtown.

Parents have also expressed concern that while facial coverings will be recommended at Three Village schools they will not be mandatory in the classrooms whenever there is six-foot distancing.

To come up with the proposed plan, the Three Village Board of Education commissioned a Governance School Reopening Task Force and affiliates subcommittees, which included 107 individuals, and in addition to parent/guardian surveys also sent one out to staff members.

Among the changes to be made for the new school year are classroom layouts that allow a minimum of 6 feet distancing; classrooms and other spaces being cleared of any additional items to allow for greater distancing; markers and signage being used for visual distancing cues; and plastic separators for use in cafeterias, speech pathology, occupational therapy and physical therapy.

Steps are also being taken to instruct staff members on how to recognize the signs and symptoms of the virus and what to do to isolate a person if it’s believed they are sick.

“The district will proceed with the understanding that planning for schools to reopen is not a one-time event,” the reopening plan read. “We will continuously monitor the situation and provide updated guidance, policies and regulatory changes as the situation requires.”

The school district’s reopening plan can be viewed at www.threevillagecsd.org.

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Miller Place High School. File photo by Kevin Redding

The Miller Place School District is tentatively planning on a 5-day in person learning experience for elementary students come fall, while secondary school students will deal with two days of in-person instruction, one day of live online learning and two days of remote learning.

All school districts were required to release their reopening plans July 31 to New York State for review. Like all reopening plans, these are tentative based on a final decision by New York State officials. Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) has yet to make the final decision for districts, but has promised to do so by Aug. 7.

In a letter to parents breaking down the district’s 35-page plan, Miller Place will have classes down to an average of 17 at the elementary level. The middle and high school plan would mean the total number of students in class is reduced by 50 percent throughout the school year.

“If Governor Cuomo does not allow full on-site instruction for our K-5 students, they will be placed on a hybrid model of two-day on-site instruction, one-day live remote instruction and two-day remote learning,” the letter signed by Superintendent Marianne Cartisano stated.

According to the district’s plan, this past May Miller Place purchased Dell laptops to supplement existing devices so now each student has access to a computer at home. This fall, each student and teacher should have access to a device they can use in school and from home. For the online learning component of this fall, the district has gone with Google G-Suite, and teachers and admin are expected to take six hours of professional development prior to the start of the school year.

Students in both elementary and secondary will be expected to have physical education, music, art and other special courses, though it did not state whether this will be held in classroom or outdoors, as other districts have explicitly planned on doing.

Compared to other neighboring districts, Miller Place will not explicitly have students in special education classes in school five days a week. Instead, students’ times and coursework will be determined on an individual basis, with plans drawn up for each child in conjunction with parents and members of the school’s Committee on Special Education. Students will use their school-provided laptops from home, and on-site instruction will be provided two days per week with access to district technology within the building. Special education teachers will still be individually responsible for each special needs students both at home and in school.

As far as before and after school programs, the district said it plans to again partner with SCOPE for these plus the Pre-Kindergarten program.

Miller Place said for those vulnerable students who cannot participate in in-person learning for medical reasons a full-time online learning may be offered in a program facilitated by district personnel, by Eastern Suffolk BOCES or home tutoring instruction. These programs will offer a basic and generic schedule for students to complete their instructional program and course requirements, though it did not offer specifics of what that may entail.

The district will not provide a separate learning experience for parents who do not want their kids to attend for the part time in-person instruction. However, the district has provided resources for parents looking to homeschool their children at millerplace.k12.ny.us/Domain/75.

Miller Place’s survey sent to parents in July received 1678 responses. Of those who responded, close to 88 percent or 1,472 parents said they would have their kid attend school in person for at least some part of the school year. At the same time, most parents said they were not in favor of having children wear masks during normal instruction.

Though many students would, the majority of parents, about 60 percent, said they would not be able to have their child driven to school each day, and would need to take public transportation.

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Rocky Point High School. File photo by Giselle Barkley

Rocky Point plans to have its elementary students in all five days of the week, while middle and high schoolers will trade off between in-person learning and online education Monday through Friday.

Releasing its plan on its website July 31, Superintendent Scott O’Brien said in a letter to the district dated July 31 that school principals will be creating videos for students, families, teachers, and staff that will highlight the new procedures and expectations for procedure at bus stops or walking in hallways.

“While I recognize that the reopening of schools, if approved by the governor, will look different than in years past, I assure you that our buildings will continue to be welcoming places of learning, excitement and joy for our students,” the superintendent said. “Just as we have reimagined our methods for delivering instruction, we will continue to find new ways to inspire and nurture all of our students.”

All school districts were required to release their reopening plans July 31 to New York State for review. Like all reopening plans, these are tentative based on a final decision by New York State officials. Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) has yet to make the final decision for districts, but has promised to do so by Aug. 7.

After school starts in September, elementary students in grades K-5 will be attending school five days a week in classrooms with a significantly reduced size to allow for social distancing. Specials, such as physical education, music, art and library will be put into the normal classroom or be held outside, weather permitting. Recess and lunch will be a combined period in the classroom or outside. Students will be issued a Chromebook for use both in and out of school.

Otherwise, students in middle and high school will be split into two groups for students with last names A through L and M through Z. The first attends in-person classes on Monday and Tuesday and the latter on Thursday and Friday. Outside the classroom on off days, students will be expected to log onto Google Meet before the end of the school day and complete assignments based on their regular schoolwork. On Wednesdays, all students will be home where the school will be given a “deep cleaning.”
Students in special education or English as a New Language classes will attend school Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday.

Though parents have asked if there are any options for remote learning for parents who keep their children home, the district said in its FAQ that there will be no model other than the one offered. Parents who don’t want their kids to be in school in the way described will be forced to homeschool instead.
Survey results for the district also reveal not only what expectations parents have for the upcoming school year, but also just how badly they were impacted by the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The survey included 898 responses from parents out of a school district of around 2,950 students. In those results, nearly 13 percent of respondents said they lost their job or work because of the pandemic. 3.4 percent lost a loved one to COVID-19. Over 20 percent said they have suffered depression, anxiety isolation and stress. 8.6 percent said they have had difficulty paying bills.

On the side of working parents who would need childcare in case of distance learning, nearly 16 percent said they require childcare. Another 21.7 percent said a flexible schedule would make setting up childcare difficult.

Still, a solid 78.3 percent of respondents said they would send their child to school if it were 100 percent in person. 84.8 percent said they would send their kids back in some sort of hybrid model.

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Port Jefferson Superintendent spoke at two separate graduation ceremonies Aug. 1. Photo by Kyle Barr

Among three potential plans for reopening, the Port Jefferson School District has decided on a model that would have elementary students in full time and middle school and high school students splitting their week between in-class and online learning.

All school districts were required to release their reopening plans July 31 to New York State for review. Like all reopening plans, these are tentative based on a decision by the state. Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) has yet to make the final decision for districts, but has promised to do so by Aug. 7.

At its July 29 meeting, school officials and board members heard of the three options the 68-member reopening committee has been working on the past several weeks. The presentation, shown by Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum & Instruction Christine Austen, included a fully online standardized learning experience, a hybrid model and a full-time in-person experience. 

What the district has tentatively settled on could mean increased costs to the small district on the Sound. Having grades K through five in class all the time will mean extra costs in redesigning the classrooms, hiring extra teaching assistants and other such costs associated with keeping students distanced. Superintendent Jessica Schmettan said it could be an approximate $230,000 addition out of this year’s $44,739,855 2020-21 budget. That money,  according to Schmettan, would come from the district’s reserve fund balance.

Otherwise, students in the middle and high schools will have days of the week split between two days in school, one day at home being taught over the internet live with their regular teachers and two days of what amounts to classwork, or so-called “asynchronous learning,” also over the internet.  

Students will be broken up into two groups to be put on alternating schedules, purple and gray for students with last names A through L and M through Z. District officials said they would work to make sure each group was balanced.

Though some on the board asked about students wishing to be in class together with friends, Schmettan said the biggest issue was making sure siblings were in the same group, so as to not add extra difficulty with parents taking children to school. 

A student’s grade level will determine how many hours of asynchronous learning for each student. The district has come out with a one-to-one Chromebook program, and officials also said it will work to make sure those lacking access to stable internet connections can access the online portions of their schooling.

At the same time, students in special education and in English as a New Language in the elementary school would also be there full time. However, special education and ENL, among other extra help groups in the middle and high schools, will spend four days in school and one day at home for asynchronous learning, as better to comprehend what’s expected with online learning in case schools shut down again.

In a survey sent home to parents, school officials said 12 percent of parents have said they do not plan to send their kid into school in the fall, while another 13 said they need more info before making a decision. Also in the survey, 45 percent of parents said they were comfortable with their kids taking the bus to school. The rest said they were uncomfortable or unsure about having their children take the bus. 

The district plans to send out further surveys after Cuomo releases final guidelines to confirm which parents will be sending kids to schools and which aren’t. Port Jeff also plans to survey staff to confirm who is in line for when school starts up again Sept. 8.

In the case that a student or staff member does get sick, Austen said the district will work with New York State or Suffolk County contact tracers, though it will also be incumbent on the district itself to identify who was close to the person confirmed with COVID-19.

A previous version of this post shared the wrong name of Port Jeff’s assistant superintendent. This version corrects this error.

Port Jefferson School District hosts two separate graduation ceremonies Aug. 1. Photo by Kyle Barr

The members of the Earl L. Vandermeulen High School’s Class of 2020 received their diplomas in two separate, well-orchestrated ceremonies that signified the school’s 126th commencement exercises on Aug. 1.

The Pledge of Allegiance, led by Student Organization vice president Hana Ali, was followed by “The Star-Spangled Banner” performed by Rachel Park. Both high school principal Eric Haruthunian and Student Organization president Dylan Dugourd welcomed everyone to the two morning events.

Congratulatory remarks and words of praise and inspiration were presented by Superintendent of Schools Jessica Schmettan and parent Richard Righi, father of graduating senior Katelynne Righi. Senior Class President James Marci presented the class gift fit for the current time and to honor the community: a donation to both Mather Hospital and St. Charles Hospital, noting that many of the students who grew up in the community were born at St. Charles.

The top two students, valedictorian Christine Iasso and salutatorian Kyle Onghai also addressed their fellow classmates, sharing memories, reflections on their primary education, grateful words to teachers and family members, and words of advice for their fellow graduates.

“We all have the power to make the changes needed to create the brightest future our generation can enjoy,” said Iasso, who encouraged her peers to appreciate the planet and one another as they will have the opportunity to affect the lives of all the people they will interact with in the future. The valedictorian will major in sustainable agriculture and food systems at the University of California, Davis and Onghai will attend UCLA to major in mathematics.

Haruthunian then presented the Class of 2020 to Schmettan and Board of Education President Ellen Boehm before he called each student to the podium and, as is tradition, highlighted their high school careers and future plans. As they walked to the podium, they were handed their diplomas by Assistant Principal Kevin Bernier. The Class of 2020 then stood and tossed their caps in the air in celebration of becoming the newest graduates of the high school.

Text by the Port Jefferson School District and verified by reporter.

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Comsewogue’s reopening plans include students at Clinton Avenue Elementary School will be taught in alternating classes of Blue and Gold, with teachers rotating between classrooms. File photo

Following survey responses from parents and community members, the Comsewogue School District released its kindergarten through sixth-grade reopening plan, ahead of the state’s July 31 deadline. More details of the reopoening plans are available on the district’s website at  www.comsewogue.k12.ny.us.

During two public forums with parents on July 27 and 28, the district outlined the reopening plan and answered questions.

“I’m glad we were able to develop a safe plan to bring our elementary students back,” said Comsewogue Superintendent Jennifer Quinn. 

To deal with the time it would take to implement temperature checks/COVID screening for students and staff, the district will be adjusting the arrival time as well as shortening the school days from eight periods to seven periods. 

“In order to make up for that time we will be doing a districtwide character education program that will be run remotely,” the superintendent said. 

The maximum class size will consist of 15 students socially distanced. A typical class of 25-30 students will be divided into two groups, Blue and Gold. Each of those groups will be placed in a classroom for the entire day. Teachers will rotate three periods in each class, the remaining periods will be handled by other staff members. Aides will monitor hallways/rooms between transitions. Lunch will take place in the classroom. 

Quinn said they will combine reading teachers, librarians and math/Academic Intervention Services teachers to help fill in the remaining periods. 

“We are not just putting in substitute teachers for half the day; they’ll be with certified teachers and in small groups,” Quinn said. 

Transporting students to and from schools will no doubt be a challenge. The district is encouraging parents to drop off their children at school each day, and if they live close enough, consider walking them to school.  

For those coming to school by bus, students will be required to pass a COVID-19 screening and undergo a temperature check at their respective bus stop. There will be monitors at each bus stop.

Once all students are cleared, they will board from the back of the bus and will sit socially distanced and are required to wear a mask. Students will leave from the front of the bus. Disinfecting the buses will occur between school routes. Parents who drop off their children will also be required to undergo a COVID screening and temperature check from their car. Drop-off locations will be separate from the school buses, according to Susan Casali, associate superintendent. 

Parents were concerned of what would happen to their child if they were deemed sick or had COVID-19 symptoms. Quinn said that students would be able to resume class work online and would need a doctor’s note to return to school after having had quarantined. 

In addition, the district will have HVAC systems upgraded with recommended filters, install more custodial staff at each building, use electrostatic sprayers used to disinfect quickly, there will be hand wipes in each classroom as well as hand sanitizers around the building, nurse’s office used for healthy people and an isolation room used for sick people. 

Before and aftercare will be provided at each elementary school. 

“We will be keeping [before and aftercare] in the gymnasium because it is our largest area that won’t be used,” Casali said. “They will be arriving wearing masks and will be six-feet apart.”

All pickups of children will be done in a designated area, parents will not be allowed to enter the building. The gym area will be sanitized each day. In the event students are not able to go outside for recess they will be able to use that space. 

Special education programs will continue. The district is asking all parents to complete a mandatory form to let them know if their child will be attending school in-person or virtually to begin the school year. The decision will be in effect from the first day of school through Dec. 31. The district said it has purchased enough Chromebooks for all students. 

Comsewogue plans to host future meetings to talk specifically about grades 7-12 plan.

More school districts will be releasing their reopening plans in the coming days. Check back at www.tbrnewsmedia.com for the latest on reopening plans.