Tags Posts tagged with "Commack Union Free School District"

Commack Union Free School District

Huntington High School. File photo

Many students in Huntington’s North Shore school districts will experience a mix of in-person and online learning to start off the school year.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) gave the green light for schools to reopen come September during a media call Aug. 7.

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

The governor recommended that school districts offer community discussion to find common ground for families and teachers. School districts in New York state were required to submit reopening plans by July 31 unless administrators filed for an extension. 

Huntington Union Free School District

In a July 31 letter to Huntington school district families, Superintendent James Polansky said the 2020-21 academic year would begin with a hybrid model where students would be assigned to cohorts in each school. Each cohort will have days when they attend school in person and when they study remotely. Kindergarteners, however, will attend every day.

“The plan is set to work in ‘phases,’ which will support the incremental shift to more frequent in-school learning for a greater number of students at times when it is safe to do so,” Polansky said in the letter. “Recognizing the concern on the part of some families regarding those medically at risk or experiencing anxiety in the household, we will also offer the option of a full remote (distance learning) program.”

Out of 1,692 parents surveyed earlier this summer, in-school learning was slightly more preferred than a hybrid model, and more than 20% preferred in-school over remote learning.

According to the district’s reopening plan, students in grades 1-6 will be separated alphabetically into two groups. Those with last names starting with A to K will attend school Tuesdays and Wednesdays, while those with last names L through Z will go to classes in person Thursdays and Fridays. The cohorts will alternate attending school on Mondays.

Finley Middle School and Huntington High School students will return to school one or two days per week in four separate cohorts. When not physically in school, students will learn virtually with teachers livestreaming their instruction and mirroring the same in-school, period-by-period schedule. 

The superintendent added in the July letter that classrooms and other spaces were set up to maintain the required 6 feet of social distancing. Students will be required to wear masks but will have mask breaks during the day. Learning spaces will also include translucent barriers to help prevent the spread of aerosol particles.

Families are required to take their child’s temperature before the student leaves home, according to the reopening plan, and the parent or guardian will also be required to answer screening questions on an electronic application. Staff members will be required to do the same before they report to their buildings.

Northport-East Northport Union Free School District

Superintendent Rob Banzer wrote in an Aug. 2 letter to the community that a team of administrators and teachers created plans for three different possible scenarios. The plans included an in-person option, the continuation of 100% remote learning and a hybrid approach. The district was given an extension by the state to submit its recommended plan by Aug. 7 instead of the original deadline of July 31.

After Cuomo’s Aug. 7 announcement that school buildings could open, the district decided to go ahead with its hybrid plan. According to the reopening plan, all students will be divided into two cohorts, blue and gold. Students in the blue group will attend school in person on Mondays and Thursdays, while the gold group will report to buildings Tuesdays and Fridays. Remote learning will take place when they are not in school. Special education classes and English language learners will attend school every day but Wednesday.

“I cannot emphasize enough the importance of flexibility, adaptability and resiliency as we move towards the opening of school,” Banzer wrote.

All students and staff members will be required to complete a daily health-screening questionnaire, according to the plan. In addition to students and staff members being asked to distance at least 6 feet, there will be physical barriers in some cases. The plan also includes that masks will be worn on buses and when 6 feet of distance cannot be maintained. In addition to meals, students will not have to wear masks when sitting 6 feet apart in classrooms.

Commack Union Free School District

While elementary school students will attend school every day in person, secondary students will be in buildings every other day. The recommended plan depended on the district resolving transportation issues, which according to the Commack schools’ website, was accomplished recently.

The district offered families to opt out of transportation for the upcoming school year. The number of riders needed to be reduced was 50% to allow all elementary students to attend school daily, according to the district’s reopening plans.

“The Commack School District is committed to bringing all elementary students back into their school buildings this fall,” the plan read. “Therefore, it is necessary to reduce the number of elementary school riders by 50%. If we fail to reduce our elementary ridership by 50%, elementary students will not be able to attend ‘brick and mortar school’ daily, and students would attend every other day engaging in remote learning on the days they are not in a school building.” 

Currently, buses that usually seat 64 can only transport 22 to allow for social distancing.

Elementary school students in Commack will be divided into groups A and B, with A taking core classes in the morning and then lunch and gym, art and other enrichment classes in the afternoon. The B group’s schedule will be the opposite.

High school and middle school students will have capacity in the building reduced to 50% and students will attend schools on alternating days. There is also a plan for teachers to change classrooms instead of students to minimize traffic in hallways. An every other day school schedule will be applied where the A group will attend school Monday, Wednesday and Friday on the first week and Tuesday and Thursday the next week. Students in the B group will attend Tuesday and Thursday the first week and Monday, Wednesday and Friday the second week. 

Students will be required to wear masks when not seated at their desks and every desk will have a plastic sneeze guard. According to the district’s Q&A on its website, parents and guardians are encouraged to take children’s temperatures at home and will complete an attestation on a COVID app confirming that their child does not have a temperature above 100 degrees. Students’ temperatures will also be taken upon arrival at school with a temperature scanner.

by -
0 1544
Families protest for five days of school in Smithown. Photo by Lina Weingarten

Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) gave the green light for schools to reopen come September.

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

The governor recommended that school districts offer community discussion to find common ground for families and teachers.

Like many school districts in New York state, Smithtown township schools submitted their recommended reopening plans by July 31 but each offers a different plan for educating their students.

Smithtown Central School District

Smithtown decided on  a hybrid model where half of the students will attend school in-person Mondays and Tuesdays and the other half will attend Thursdays and Fridays. Students will alternate attending classes on Wednesdays. The school will also offer remote learning with both real-time and recorded instruction for those who are unable to attend school in person or whose families chose not to send them during the pandemic. 

In the FAQ section of the Smithtown district webpage, administrators said they chose not to have classes in person five days a week due to New York State Education Department guidance that requires schools to enforce social distancing of 6 feet apart in all school facilities, on school grounds and during transportation.

“We have a fundamental concern that, given the nature of schools, as well as the ages of the students we serve, the district felt that operating at full capacity would unnecessarily compromise the health and safety of our students and staff,” the district wrote.

Upon news of the recommendation of a hybrid model some parents reached out to the district to ask why the closed Nesconset and Branch Brook elementary schools couldn’t be opened to enable the social distancing required. The families also started the Open Up Branch Brook & Nesconset El!!!! Facebook group, which has more than 1,500 members, and protested in front of the New York Avenue administration building Aug. 5 and Aug. 11. 

According to the school’s FAQ section, class sizes will be reduced by about 50 percent. That would still leave 1,600 students to be placed in the two buildings and social distancing would still not be possible. Currently enrollment in the seven open elementary schools is between 370 and 550 students each. The district added that an additional 170 teachers and other staff members would have to be hired if the two buildings were to open.

“The currently vacant buildings would also require multiple infrastructure, technology and security upgrades that would be needed to meet state requirements prior to approval for use by the NYSED.” the district said.

Families were sent a survey earlier in the summer to gauge interest in remote instruction and to find the feasibility of students returning full time. Survey results of elementary school families displayed at the end of July showed 19.5% said “yes” to full time remote learning even if school was full time and 13.9% said they would choose full time remote even if school was hybrid. More than half, 59.1% said they would have their child ride the bus. In another survey the results were 20%, 14.5% and 58.7%, respectively as of Aug. 6. Surveys were of an unknown sample size.

Students and employees will be asked to wear facial coverings on the bus, upon entry and exit of school buildings, common spaces and whenever students and staff cannot maintain proper social distancing. Due to desks being spaced out, students will be able to remove masks during classroom time, but they are encouraged to wear them at all other times. It is also recommended that students eat in classrooms to minimize the movement of people through the hallways, and 12 feet will be maintained between participants when engaging in physical activity, singing or playing wind instruments. 

In an Aug. 10 letter to families, Russell Stewart, interim superintendent of schools, said the district was investigating if the reopening plan needed to be updated with additional details regarding remote learning, contact tracing and student and staff testing. The district has scheduled three additional board of education online meetings to provide public sessions for parents. The meetings are scheduled for Aug. 17, 19 and 21.

The district said students in the Extended School Year Program for Special Education students started the summer with a fully remote program and then transitioned to a hybrid model, which the district said worked well.

Kings Park Central School District

Even before students step out of their houses in Kings Park, every day during the week parents will be required to fill out an online student health self-screening form, which will require a temperature check and answers to questions such as if the child was exposed to a person with COVID-19 and if they have certain symptoms, including cough, fever and sore throat.

Parents submitted questions about the reopening plans, and they were published on Kings Park district’s website along with answers from the district. When asked why there weren’t temperature stations at the buildings, the district said taking every student’s temperature upon arrival is nearly impossible and would impact school start time. 

“We need to remember that, while fever or chills (100 degrees or greater) is one of the top symptoms along with cough, shortness of breath and fatigue), current research on COVID-19 has shown that less than 50% of school-age students present with a temperature,” the statement read on the district’s website.  

While it is encouraged for parents to drive their children to school, buses will still be available and students where both drivers will be required to wear masks.

The district has divided the recommended reopening plans into four models labeled green (safe), yellow (low risk), orange (moderate risk) and red (high risk). 

While green means schools can reopen with five day in-person classes and no restrictions, the reopening plan said the scenario is unlikely until the pandemic is over or a vaccine is available to the general public.

The district’s yellow plan includes in-person class with restrictions, such as masks, social distancing and modifications to the day, including arrival and dismissal times, lunch, physical education and more. The orange plan, which the district will use for at least the first two weeks, will be a hybrid model to reduce building capacity by 50%. Students will be split up into two groups, where group A will go to school Monday and Thursday and the other, group B, will attend school Tuesday and Friday. On the other days, students will participate in remote learning, and buildings will be disinfected Wednesdays and Saturdays. 

A remote option will be provided for students who are medically vulnerable or live with someone who is, and if the school’s must close buildings again, remote learning, the red plan, will be offered with both recorded and live instruction. English language learners and those who are in special needs classes will attend class in person every day. 

According to the district’s Q&A section on reopening, students will be required to wear masks all day except when eating and during mask breaks. Alternate areas including classrooms, gymnasiums and outdoor spaces will be considered to spread out students during lunch.

Commack Union Free School District

While elementary school students will attend school every day in person, secondary students will be in buildings every other day. The recommended plan depended on the district resolving transportation issues, which according to the Commack schools’ website, was accomplished recently.

The district offered families to opt out of transportation for the upcoming school year. The number of riders needed to be reduced was 50% to allow all elementary students to attend school daily, according to the district’s reopening plans.

“The Commack School District is committed to bringing all elementary students back into their school buildings this fall,” the plan read. “Therefore, it is necessary to reduce the number of elementary school riders by 50%. If we fail to reduce our elementary ridership by 50%, elementary students will not be able to attend ‘brick and mortar school’ daily, and students would attend every other day engaging in remote learning on the days they are not in a school building.” 

Currently, buses that usually seat 64 can only transport 22 to allow for social distancing.

Elementary school students in Commack will be divided into groups A and B, with A taking core classes in the morning and then lunch and gym, art and other enrichment classes in the afternoon. The B group’s schedule will be the opposite.

High school and middle school students will have capacity in the building reduced to 50% and students will attend schools on alternating days. There is also a plan for teachers to change classrooms instead of students to minimize traffic in hallways. An every other day school schedule will be applied where the A group will attend school Monday, Wednesday and Friday on the first week and Tuesday and Thursday the next week. Students in the B group will attend Tuesday and Thursday the first week and Monday, Wednesday and Friday the second week. 

Students will be required to wear masks when not seated at their desks and every desk will have a plastic sneeze guard. According to the district’s Q&A on its website, parents and guardians are encouraged to take children’s temperatures at home and will complete an attestation on a COVID app confirming that their child does not have a temperature above 100 degrees. Students’ temperatures will also be taken upon arrival at school with a temperature scanner.

Huntington High School. File photo

By David Luces

Northport-East Northport School District

Northport residents overwhelming passed this year’s budget of $171.1 million to a vote of 1,553 to 977. The 2019-20 amount was a $4.2 million and 2.56 percent increase from last year. The district tax levy cap for 2019-20 will be 2.78 percent and the levy amount will increase by over $4 million. 

A $1.8 million from the capital reserve fund will be used for additional asphalt, concrete and drainage repairs as well as traffic reconfiguration at the entrance of Northport High School. 

Three candidates competed for three open seats this year. Allison Noonan, Larry Licopli and Thomas Loughran all ran unopposed and were elected to the board. Noonan received the most votes with 1,864, Licopli followed with 1,796 and Loughran received 1,770.  

Huntington Union Free School District

Huntington residents convincingly passed the $133.5 million budget with a vote of 1,064 to 259. The 2019-20 amount is an increase of 2.83 percent and $3.6 million over the current year’s spending plan. 

A second proposition on the ballot was approved by residents that would fund an estimated $3.9 million worth of projects. 

Three candidates competed for two open board seats this year. Incumbent William Dwyer secured re-election for another term with 804 votes. Michele Kustera received the greatest number of votes with 966 votes and won election to the board. Joesph Mattio fell short with 570 votes. 

Harborfields Central School District

Residents passed the 2019-20 budget of $88 million with a vote 754 to 340. The latest budget amount is an increase of 2.25 percent from 2018-19 and it leads to a tax levy increase of 3.12 percent. Administrative expenditures will cost $9.9 million, programs will cost $64.9 million and capital projects will take up another $13.2 million. 

Hansen Lee and Collen Wolcott won election to the board with 948 and 846 votes, respectively. Lauri Levenberg fell short with 630 votes and Freda Manuel received 248 votes.  

Elwood Union Free School District

In a landslide, residents passed the 2019-20 budget of $62.7 million, 1,223 to 350. The upcoming budget will have a tax levy increase of 2.56 percent. Administrative expenditures took up $7.1 million while programs took $47.1 million; $8.6 million will be used for capital projects. 

Two candidates competed for one 3-year term seat. Incumbent Deborah Weiss won election with 845 votes while Sara Siddiqui fell short with 712.

Cold Spring Harbor Central School District

Residents passed the district’s $70.3 million budget with a vote of 241 to 108. The tax levy for 2019-20 will increase by 2.94 percent. Administrative expenditures will take up $6.2 million; $52.8 million will go to programs; and $11.3 million will be reserved for capital projects. 

Two incumbent candidates ran unopposed. Amelia Brogan secured 282 votes and Julie Starrett received 277.                                                               

Commack Union Free School District

Commack residents passed the district’s $197.1 million budget convincingly 1,797 to 537. The 2019-20 budget will see a 2.95 percent increase in the tax levy. $20.4 million will cover administrative expenditures; $142.3 million will go to district programs; and $29.4 million will be used for future capital projects.  

Four candidates competed for two 3-year term seats: Steve Hartman won election with 1,813 votes as well as Justin Varughese who received 1,543. Pamela Verity fell short with 453 as well as Jennifer Mansi who secured 660. 

Two candidates competed for one 1-year term seat, including Susan Hermer who won election with 1,627 votes while Jennifer Scully only received 565 votes.

Teens accused of altering students' grades, schedules

Daniel Soares mugshot from SCPD

Three students from Commack High School were arrested Tuesday morning and accused of breaking into their school district’s computer system to change two students’ grades and nearly 300 students’ schedules, the Suffolk County Police Department said.

Cops identified the three 17-year-olds as Alex Mosquera of East Northport and Commack natives Daniel Soares and Erick Vaysman, alleging they were behind an unauthorized breach of the Commack Union Free School District’s computer system back in July. They surrendered to detectives on Tuesday around 7:30 a.m. and were scheduled to be arraigned at First District Court in Central Islip later in the day, police said.

Attorney information for the three teenagers was not immediately available.

Alexander Mosquera mugshot from SCPD
Alexander Mosquera mugshot from SCPD

Police said they were first notified of the data breach in July, when the Commack school district determined an unauthorized person, or group of people, accessed its network and altered the schedules of nearly 300 students. The district was able to identify the alterations and correct the schedules before students arrived for class in September, the district said. The county police department’s computer crimes section also investigated the breach and found two students’ grades were altered, SCPD said.

The district posted news of the arrest on its website Tuesday morning, but did not identify the students by name.

“We know that the actions of a few students do not reflect on the entire student body,” the Commack Union Free School District said in the statement. “From kindergarten through high school graduation, the district teaches and reinforces the attributes that contribute to good character: courtesy, honesty, attaining pride, responsibility, accountability, compassion, tolerance, endurance and respect. With reinforcement and guidance by their families, our students reflect those values.”

Erick Vaysman mugshot from SCPD
Erick Vaysman mugshot from SCPD

Mosquera was charged with computer trespass and criminal solicitation; Soares was charged with burglary, computer tampering, identity theft, computer trespass and eavesdropping; and Vaysman was charged with computer tampering and criminal solicitation, cops said Tuesday. The arrests came just weeks after the district went public with news of the initial breach, which was posted to its website last month. In response, the district bulked up its data protection protocols by adding security features to student management systems and implementing a 24-hour active monitoring program.

Some of the information that may have been viewed, the district said, included student identification numbers, names, addresses, contact information and schedules. Social security numbers, however, are not in the student management system.

Password protection safeguards and network protocols also prevented any further access to the district’s data management system and kept private and personal information safe, the district said in a statement.
“We believe the initial data breach only involved a very limited number of high school student records,” the district said in a statement. “The district continues to cooperate fully with local law enforcement agencies, and our IT department is working closely with the police to provide digital data to assist law enforcement. In addition, a full electronic security review is underway with a company that specializes in network security.”