Tags Posts tagged with "Back to School"

Back to School

In gratitude for the support shown to EXIT Realty Island Elite by the local community, agents from the real estate brokerage recently transported and dropped off the backpacks and supplies collected during their annual backpack fundraiser. This is the fourth year this office has organized this supply drive, which provides every incoming kindergarten student in the Comsewogue school community with a free backpack and starter supplies like crayons, markers, rulers and more. 

EXIT, located at 4699 Nesconset Hwy, Suite 2, in Port Jefferson Station, has now collected well over a thousand back packs, and donated the extra supplies to local churches and organizations. 

“We appreciate being a part of this wonderful community and welcome the opportunity to give back,” said Jason Furnari, Broker/Owner of EXIT Realty Island Elite.

METRO photo

As the holiday break began to wind down and COVID-19 infection rates climbed, many parents hoped their children would be learning remotely for a week or two instead of returning to their classrooms.

Many feared that their children would get sick if they returned to school buildings and hoped that their districts would take advantage of their past remote learning experiences and allow students to return to a virtual classroom temporarily — just long enough for the holiday virus surge to pass.

While a few schools on Long Island did switch to remote and other districts offered an option, many school officials opened the doors to their classrooms as if they didn’t have a clue as to how to use alternative methods to educate.

Many people would agree that learning during the pandemic for a majority of students was difficult when a day at school meant logging into a computer instead of boarding a bus. The ideal option is to be seated in a classroom. However, in the worst of times, such as the world continuing to fight a virus that could be deadly to some, would switching to remote learning for a week or two be so harmful?

To keep our children and their families safe, school districts should be at the ready to switch to remote learning when infection rates soar. While health officials can advise not to gather during the holidays, is it such a terrible thing to allow people to be with their loved ones and then look at a screen when school is back in session?

Technology has made it possible to continue learning and working during difficult times such as these. Perfecting remote techniques and always being prepared to use them means that learning, working, basic health care and more can continue no matter what is going on around us, except for maybe a power outage.

And with more employers offering work-from-home options, many parents will be able to watch their children in the house if their children need to log into a computer to connect with their classroom. Which in turn, eliminates the old snow or sick day problem of who is going to watch the kids.

It’s been said many times during the pandemic that maybe instead of getting back to normal, it might be better to embrace a new normal. Let’s retain the lessons we have learned the last two years and increase our country’s chances of soon enjoying good times once again.

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Edna Louise Spear Elementary School music teacher Christian Neubert introduced students to music lessons. Photo from PJSD

The Port Jefferson School District welcomed students back for the 2021-2022 school year on Sept. 2. 

Edna Louise Spear Elementary School second grade teacher Carleen Parmegiani
prepared a lesson for her class. Photo from PJSD

Greeted by teachers and administrators throughout the district, students met teachers and classmates while quickly adapting to their new routines as they move forward in an engaging and productive academic year.

Photo from Brandpoint

Over a year and a half of coping with the pandemic is taking a toll on everyone’s emotional and mental health – and may be affecting children and teens even more than adults. According to recent research from the Kaiser Family Foundation, over 25% of high school students have experienced a decline in emotional and cognitive health since March 2020, and over 20% of parents with children aged 5-12 reported similar worsening conditions for their children. And as kids everywhere are now getting back into classrooms, their feelings of stress and anxiety may also be hard for them to cope with.

Fortunately, there are proactive steps parents can take to help children and teens manage their feelings during this transition back to school. Dr. Rhonda Randall, chief medical officer at UnitedHealthcare, offers her tips to help your child adjust to the ongoing changes and challenges as they head back to class.

1. Share information

It’s important to be proactive, providing your children with age-appropriate information and support, now and as the school year continues. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website, CDC.gov, is a great resource for learning how to talk to your child about COVID-19.

Beyond talking to your child, remember to take time to listen and acknowledge their concerns. Be emotionally supportive and understand that their worries may go beyond just the initial back-to-school phase. After such a long period of change and upheaval in their lives, helping children reduce stress and providing strong support can help them get through any possible challenges that may arise.

2. Help children feel secure

Going back to school after such a long pause may feel daunting for children. Be reassuring about safety and validate their feelings by letting them know it’s OK to feel upset, scared, anxious, down or even angry. You can also share some of the ways that you manage your feelings, to help them learn from you. Make sure children know that they can ask you questions at any time. For adolescents, consider using self-care tools like the Sanvello app to help them navigate difficult emotions.

3. Listen and watch

Parents and family members are often the first line of defense for children who may be struggling but are unable to tell you what they need. Let them know you’re there to listen and that it’s safe to share how they’re feeling with you. Pay attention to more than just words. By watching your child and listening to how they speak, you can be aware of their moods and notice any uncharacteristic changes in behavior, so you’ll know when it’s time to seek expert support.

For example, some common signs of depression in children include feeling sad, hopeless or irritable, having a hard time paying attention, low energy or fatigue, feeling worthless or useless and showing self-injury and self-destructive behaviors. Contact your child’s healthcare provider if you have questions or concerns about behavior changes that you’re seeing.

4. Define boundaries and create regular routines

Consider limiting exposure to news coverage as well as to social media. Instead, spend time interacting with each other in positive ways, like family dinners, movie nights and game nights. Consider asking your child if they’d like to start a new after-school activity, sport or hobby that interests them. Establishing regular routines can help provide children with structure when they’re not in the classroom, which also helps them to manage their emotional well-being.

5. Take action

Discuss any concerns you have about your child or teen with your pediatrician or family physician as soon as possible. Your healthcare provider may recommend a plan of action or even a counselor who could help you find ways to reduce unhealthy stress and improve your child’s overall health and well-being.

For more health and wellness information, visit UHC.com.

Image from Pixabay

By Daniel Dunaief

Daniel Dunaief

Welcome to Dan Dunaief HS or DDHS. I know it’s an odd time to start a new high school, but children need to learn, even during a pandemic.

Originally, I was planning to have everyone come to a pep rally on the first day of school. After all the restrictions of last year, it only seemed fitting to bring the kids together in the gym and celebrate the chance to sit in 1950s style wooden bleachers that rock when someone walks a few steps.

But, then, I realized we don’t have a basketball, football or squash team, we haven’t picked school colors, we don’t have a school song and, most importantly, we are in a difficult spot with the pandemic.

I know your kids are exhausted from dealing with the virus. Who can blame them? Aren’t we all?

At first, I thought we’d avoid the whole topic and stick to the basics in school.

But, then, it occurred to me that avoiding a virus that has now affected three school years wouldn’t make it better. We can try not to think about it, but that doesn’t make it go away. Information and knowledge will help these students understand the strange world that surrounds them and might empower them to feel as if they’re doing something about it, even if it’s just learning more about a time that future generations will no doubt study carefully, scrutinizing our every move as if we were some kind of early laboratory experiment.

With that in mind, I gave the curriculum serious consideration. I thought about all the standard ways students have learned.

Ultimately, I decided to turn toward the academic vortex. At DDHS, at least for the first year or so, we’re going to encourage students to study the real challenges of the world around them.

For starters, in our art class, we’re going to have design competitions for the front and back of masks. The winners will provide masks that the entire school will wear each week.

Then, in an engineering class, we’ll work on creating masks that are more comfortable and just as effective as the ones that make our faces sweat. Maybe this class can also figure out how to provide words that flash across the mask when we talk, giving people a better idea of what we’re saying behind our masks. Maybe enterprising students can design masks that cool our faces when we sweat and warm them when we’re cold, that shave or bleach unwanted hair or that act like dry-fit shirts, covering our faces without clinging to them.

In history, we’ll spend at least a semester on the Spanish Influenza. We’ll explore what leaders throughout the world did in 1918 during the last pandemic. We’ll see what worked best and what disappointed.

Our psychology class will devote itself to the conflicts between people’s perceptions of infringements on their individual freedoms and their desire to protect themselves and each other by wearing masks.

Our political science course will delve into how politics became enmeshed in the response to the virus. This class will look at which side gains, politically, amid different public health scenarios.

Science classes will explore why some people get incredibly sick from the virus, while others show no symptoms. We will also study the way the virus works, look at similar viruses and try to understand and track the development of variants.

Math will work with the science department to understand the spread of the virus and to plot various scenarios based on human behavior. Eager students in math will have the chance to demonstrate how sicknesses spread depending on the wearing of masks, the use of vaccines, and the creation of new variants.

Our language arts class will provide an outlet for students to express their hopes, dreams and concerns amid the unique challenges in their lifetime created by the pandemic.

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Senator Mario R. Mattera (2nd Senate District) and The Salvation Army of East Northport are partnering for a back-to-school supply drive from now through Friday, August 27th. During the effort, Senator Mattera’s district office, which is located at 180 East Main Street in Smithtown, will serve as a drop off location for supplies.

With the help of The Salvation Army, volunteers will fill backpacks to be distributed to children in the community. According to the Salvation Army, the most-needed supplies include: backpacks, binders, folders, notebooks, index cards, pens, pencils, glue sticks, rulers, pencils, pencil cases, crayons, highlighters, markers, and erasers.

The Salvation Army in East Northport prioritizes having a positive impact on its community through education and service; offering numerous services and events to better our communities financially, educationally, and physically. In addition to the school supply drive, the Salvation Army supports sports programs, educational programs and recreational camps.

“It is truly my privilege to partner with The Salvation Army to help school-aged children in our area.  My office is happy to partner with a purposeful, passionate group to ensure that the children of our community have the resources they need to succeed in the upcoming school year. By getting these children the supplies they need, we can help set them up for greater success and that is something every child deserves,” stated Senator Mattera.  “I thank everyone who has donated and all who will.”

For more information, please call 631-361-2154.

Pixabay photo

Things aren’t back to normal yet, and unfortunately for a few good weeks, we got a taste of what freedom from the pandemic was like. 

People began getting vaccinated, families were reunited, and parties were officially free of restrictions. 

The people that got vaccinated knew they could still be carriers, but a little cold is better than being on a ventilator, right? 

Businesses were thriving at the start of the summer — after more than a year of having their doors shut and no revenue coming in. 

But things turned pretty quickly, and we’re disappointed now. 

The fact that people threw their masks away when Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) lifted the state restrictions was not the brightest move — we should have kept the restrictions just a tad bit longer because now we have the Delta variant and it’s not looking too good. 

Since people (vaccinated or not) have had the chance to breathe again, party again and feel 90% normal again, they don’t want to bring back the masks. 

We understand that. They’re uncomfortable and for us ladies, it takes our makeup off rather quick. 

But we’re keeping them on (again) to keep other people safe. 

Remember in the beginning of the pandemic when everyone was all in this together? We thanked first responders and believed the science. What happened? Why is this, all of a sudden, a hoax? 

Some people cannot get vaccinated right now, and that’s okay. But there are other people who are choosing not to and are not being honest about it. They’re either too lazy or too afraid. 

With schools reopening in a few weeks, the debates are increasing as to whether or not children should wear masks in school. Considering those under 12 cannot get vaccinated yet, and many parents have chosen not to have their children get the shot, we feel it’s imperative that students be required to mask up. With the surge of the Delta variant and the possibility of another one, the virus could potentially spread quickly in classrooms and then in the surrounding communities.

New vaccines, new medications and new things are terrifying — but public health is more important, and we still need to be in this together.

COVID-19 is never going to leave, but we can alleviate it. 

Be smart and do your part to keep your loved ones, neighbors and yourself healthy.

METRO photo

By Fr. Francis Pizzarelli

Father Frank Pizzarelli

School has just begun. In our county, we have a wide range of educational opportunities and experiences. Each school district is attempting to respond responsibly to all families and their children. That is a very complex and challenging dynamic because every school community is so vastly different.

It continues to amaze me that very simple and basic practices that are evidence-based are so complicated to embrace for a number of people in our midst. We have allowed our destructive political rhetoric to impair our common sense and basic efforts to support some very basic common-sense practices that protect all of us.

My college students both on campus and online are an inspiration. They are open and insightful. They are hungering to learn and genuinely make a positive contribution to our community that will make a profound difference in the future.

This pandemic is a powerful opportunity for us to draw closer together. It’s an opportunity to build new bridges of understanding and compassion. It’s an opportunity to challenge the bigotry and hatred that has become so infectious.

These are challenging times. We can look at these challenges as burdens that are burying us under or we can see them as opportunities for change and transformation. There are so many life lessons to be learned, if we have the courage to take the blinders off and listen.

We will never return to the life we once knew before the pandemic. However, we have an opportunity to create a new tomorrow that is rich with opportunity and possibility that can be life-giving, if we have the courage to live differently.

There are so many life lessons to be learned. This pandemic has brought families together. People are talking and connecting in ways that were never imagined. Many of us have had to rearrange our priorities. A growing number of people have become more other-centered than self-centered. I have witnessed countless random acts of kindness that have changed people’s lives.

It has been refreshing to listen to the next generation of leaders talk about making tomorrow’s America better and stronger, more inclusive and respectful; a place where diversity and difference are seen as a blessing and not a curse.

The America that my students speak about is an America filled with promise and opportunity for all, grounded in a respect for the dignity of every human person. It is an America that will not tolerate hateful rhetoric; that will respect people’s right to peacefully protest injustice and give voice to the voiceless. It is an America that empowers every citizen to dream dreams and believes those dreams can come true.

Fr. Pizzarelli, SMM, LCSW-R, ACSW, DCSW, is the director of Hope House Ministries in Port Jefferson.

Labor Day, back to school, the 19th anniversary of 9/11 — these days had consequences before. But in the midst of an ongoing pandemic, they mean that much more — they have to. They show how it’s no longer enough to be complacent and let the issues these days represent pass us by.

We can’t pass by Labor Day without thinking of the thousands upon thousands of people out of work. We have to remember just how much toil people in our local food pantries and soup kitchens are putting in to help the rising number of food insecure families across Long Island.

We bustle around and shop online for any Labor Day sales ignoring the purpose of the day is to not only celebrate organized labor’s accomplishments in gaining things as welcome as the five-day workweek, but to offer the future hope of additional compensation and relief to the millions who struggle even while working full time, too many times in more than one job.

We have to be able to come out of this pandemic with a new perspective. When those who were considered “essential” such as those who worked in supermarkets or other low-wage service industry jobs were not being compensated for the risk they put both themselves and their families in, we know there needs to be another look at allowing people to make a living wage when working full time.

On Tuesday, most of our North Shore schools reopened for in-person instruction for the first time since March. Parents walked their children to the bus stop, or more than likely drove them to school, with a great feeling of hope but likely some foreboding. Many stood at the bus stop in masks. At schools all across the North Shore, cars waited in long lines before finally letting their kids off, in some cases a faculty member waiting to take their temperature.

This is not going to be easy. Already we’re seeing the logistical issues of how tens or even hundreds of parents will drop off their students all at once. School districts need to iron out these issues, and parents, for their part, need to be patient while that is worked out. Though districts have been planning for this eventuality for months, no plan ever survives first contact, as the saying goes.

But parents must also recognize the fragility of the situation. All it takes is one slip up, one instance where the regional infection rate spikes above 9% and schools will once again shut down, as required by New York State. We can’t relax on any of our mask or distancing efforts, and this especially has to be reinforced to our children. As much as many parents don’t like what school districts have planned, even a hybrid model is better than full remote learning only. We have to think of the parents who work full time and have nobody to be home for their young children to either take care of them or make sure they’re learning properly.

As we look to commemorate 9/11, we see many events hosted by our local fire departments are not available to the public. Some have taken the option to use livestream instead, but fire departments have made the bold and correct decision to try and limit as much extra contact as possible. After all, many of the firefighters and EMTs at these departments were on the front lines not two months ago. They know better than most of us the toll the virus takes.

Let us also not forget the hundreds of people with lasting health impacts of being there when the towers fell 19 years ago. Those people are still around — folks like John Feal of the FealGood Foundation that continue to support rescue workers and other volunteers deserve our respect and backing.

This is a time that reminds us to work together in all these regards. Consequential times require conscientious action, and we believe our communities have the capability to make the right choices.

METRO photo

We’re not going to lie to you. We know this school year is going to be a tough one.

If the end of the 2019-20 academic year has taught us anything, it’s that getting an education during a pandemic is difficult. Watching parents rally across the North Shore has also shown that not all parents agree with their districts’ plans for the new school year. Some want more in-person learning, while others want options for keeping you home instead.

While it’s imperative for parents and school administrators to work together to provide the best education for their children, for students the most important thing on your minds should be getting that education while staying healthy.

We know some parents feel that their children may have fallen behind during the few months schools went fully remote earlier in the year. All of a sudden switching to remote learning left many districts scurrying to figure out how to best utilize this type of e-learning. While some said they excelled at it, others very much did not.

No matter how you’re returning to school, it’s important for you to raise your hand if something doesn’t make sense whether it’s regarding a lesson or even how to follow public health guidelines.

It can be hard sometimes for a student to admit they don’t know something, but now more than ever it’s important to take control of your studies and your health. Every child has dreams for the future, and it’s the school’s responsibility to help them obtain those goals. So, to students, we say, “Speak up!” Let your parents know how you’re feeling about how things are going, or touch base with a teacher or guidance counselor.

For those who are attending in-person classes, we know you’ll have to handle new precautionary measures such as social distancing, wearing masks when it’s not possible to stand 6 feet away and having temperatures taken upon leaving the house or entering the school. We know a lot of responsibility has been put on your shoulders. What do you do if you see someone not complying? Speak up.

It’s hard, we know. Bullying is a bigger problem than ever so you may not want to call attention to yourself. But with some New York colleges open for only a week or two, we are already seeing some temporary closings, including SUNY Oneonta which at the beginning of the week reported 177 COVID-19 positive cases since the start of the fall semester with 44 students quarantining and 65 in isolation on campus. The guidelines are to help keep you and your loved ones as healthy and safe as possible. It’s imperative to realize that someone can be infectious, even if symptoms aren’t being shown.

We know this is a lot of responsibility to put on young shoulders. But as journalists that have been fortunate enough to interview many of the students in our coverage areas, we know the depth and breadth of the intelligence and empathy of our youth.

To those who will study for hours despite not having immediate access to teachers, and to the student-athletes who continue to practice alone on the field or on the lawn with their parents, we see you. We know you got this.

Our editorial staff also wants to let our young people know that we’re here for you. If you see a persisting problem going on at your school, email us at [email protected], and we’ll look into it. You can even share with us your feelings about navigating these new waters in a letter to the editor to be published right in this very newspaper.

It’s going to be hard, but we’ll get through this together.