Tags Posts tagged with "Comsewogue School District"

Comsewogue School District

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If anything, high school athletes know how to lead a chant. Though instead of doing it on the field to rally their team, this time their barking voices were used to call them back to the field.

Around 60 Comsewogue athletes and their parents stood at the corner of routes 112 and 347 Sept. 18 rallying for support in demanding that Section XI, which runs Suffolk County’s scholastic sports, allows sports to start their seasons in September. 

Cole Blatter, a junior on Comsewogue’s football and wrestling teams, said despite Section XI’s promise that the new seasons for sports could start in January, there’s really no way to be sure, especially because they felt the rug was pulled out from under them already.

Sports “really adds structure to my day — I go to school and then I go to football,” he said.

For his teammates, many of them seniors, the Comsewogue athlete said he could not even well describe how upset they are.

“It’s their last season — some are never going to play football again, some of them are never going to wrestle again, some will never play lacrosse again,” Blatter said. “All of that stuff that made them happy, it’s just been taken away from them.”

Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) gave localities the option to play certain sports deemed low risk Aug. 24, specifically excluding sports like football and volleyball because of their use of shared equipment. Though Section XI originally said it would host fall seasons for all other sports, the entity and its athletic council reversed course Sept. 11 and said it would push all sports into truncated seasons starting Jan. 4. 

The Comsewogue group was part of a large protest earlier that same day outside the Section XI building in Smithtown, demanding their voices and concerns be heard.

Parents of athletes who came to the corner of Route 112 were just as upset about the situation as their children. 

“It’s their senior year, they already lost their junior season, so to have everything be combined next spring, and we still don’t know what the [infection rate] in January is going to be — we don’t know if this promise of January is even going to happen,” Danielle Deacy said. “You’re taking so much away from these kids … scholarships, recruitment. This is such a critical time for a lot of these kids that they’ve been playing since they were 5 years old.”

Deacy, the mother of Jake, a senior at Comsewogue High School, said with the numbers being what they are, and how COVID-19 does not impact young people as much as it does older groups, “the percentage of risk compared to what they’re losing is not worth it.”

When Section XI made its decision, it said in a statement to its website Sept. 11 that it was based on the potential for increased positive cases of COVID-19, reduced spectators, a lack of locker room and facility use, increased costs related to security and transportation, and the general well-being of athletes, parents, coaches and other staff.

Still, at least one member of the Comsewogue board of education wrote a letter in favor of those protesting, namely board president John Swenning. He said in a letter read out to the assembled parents and athletes that the district has had conversations with Section XI, adding that if schools remain mostly COVID-free, then athletes should be able to play before the expected Jan. 4 start date.

“Section XI acknowledged we should continue to have an open discussion with our superintendents and athletic directors to monitor the status of the health and well-being of our students,” Swenning wrote in his letter.

But for the students, who have already missed what was planned to be the original sport start date Sept. 21, every day that goes by is another loss.

“We want to play, we want the chance to have our seasons here,” Jake Deacy said. “Our spring seasons were cut short, we can’t let that happen again.” 

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State Dashboard Shows Comsewogue HS With Two Positive Tests, But District Says Not to Worry

PJSD said the Edna Louise Spear Elementary School has been temporarily closed and all students moved online after on student was tested positive. Photo from Google maps

*Update* The night of Sept. 16, Port Jeff Superintendent Jessica Schmettan released a follow up letter about the student who was confirmed positive. She said the elementary school was “thoroughly” cleaned after the district received the news. The New York State Department of Health interviewed the family and district, and has since advised the district that classrooms are cleared to reopen, saying the student was not infectious while on school grounds.

Students who had close contact with the student have been contacted, and contact tracing is underway. 

“The situation today is a reminder about the importance of social distancing, the use of masks, and proper hygiene,” Schmettan said in the letter. “The community needs to remain vigilant in order to avoid closures in the future.”

Original story:

Parents in the Port Jefferson School District received a message Wednesday morning saying a student was tested positive for COVID-19 and that the Edna Louise Spear Elementary School would be closed for the meantime.

“This morning the Port Jefferson School District was notified that a student at the elementary school tested positive for COVID-19,” Superintendent Jessica Schmettan wrote in a message to district parents shared with TBR News Media. “Following our procedures and protocols and guidance from the [New York State] Department of Health, the elementary school is closed today for distance learning.”

The district added they will be conducting contact tracing and disinfecting the elementary school. Parents will be updated as the situation develops.

As of Sept. 15, Comsewogue High School has been listed by the New York State dashboard as having two positive cases in the Comsewogue High School. 

Comsewogue Superintendent Jennifer Quinn described the situation as two siblings who had tested positive for COVID in another country, though she said the name of the country was not released for fear of the students being outed to their peers. They were cleared by the New York State Department of Health to come back to school, though while in school another test taken in the states came back positive.

Quinn said the Department of Health was aware of the situation, and health officials told the district the two students were likely positive because of the viral load still in the body, though they were not infectious. Both students have volunteered to stay home in the mean time.


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File photo

Suffolk detectives are continuing to investigate an incident where a teenager was stabbed in Port Jefferson Station Monday night.

Police said that following a dispute with three teenage males Sept. 14, a 16-year-old male was stabbed multiple times on the soccer field behind Boyle Road Elementary School, located at 424 Boyle Road, at around 8 p.m. Police added that the assailants then fled on foot down Bedford Avenue.

The victim was transported to a local hospital for treatment of serious injuries. His name was not released as he is a minor.

Detectives are asking anyone with information on the stabbing to contact the 6th Squad at 631-854-8652 or Crime Stoppers at 800-220-TIPS (8477).

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EXIT Realty were with Comsewogue officials delivering over 200 backpacks for kindergarteners. Photo from EXIT Realty

A backpack for every incoming kindergartener. Supplies for every fresh face to the Comsewogue School District. It may seem like a tall order, but a local realty office and donations from the community helped make it happen for the second year in a row.

EXIT Realty’s Jason Furnari, right. Photo from EXIT Realty

Last year, EXIT Realty Island Elite in Port Jefferson Station started a fundraising drive to buy every incoming kindergartener a backpack for the upcoming school year. Doing it again this year, the realty office helped facilitate the donations of 246 backpacks, enough for every incoming student starting their K-12 journey. The backpacks are also filled with a number of school supplies such as pencils, colored pencils, erasers and markers. While it won’t be everything the student needs throughout the year, it’s a good start.

Jason Furnari, the broker owner of the PJS realty office, said upon opening just a year and a half ago he knew he wanted to support the community in some way. He himself is a Comsewogue alumunus, having graduated in 2003. He also said it’s a continued legacy of Joe Rella, the popular former superintendent who passed away this year in February. Rella was Furnari’s chorus teacher in middle school.

“I really like the area we’re in, so we decided to give back to the Comsewogue School District,” he said. “It’s always about giving back to people and doing good for people, and that’s what the community’s about, it’s really family based.” 

The realty office set up an Amazon wish list and posted it to community social media groups and in notices around their office and elsewhere in the local area as well. All who participated would go online and order the items they wanted for delivery to the Port Jeff Station office. Some community members also donated some lightly used backpacks from students who have already aged past the early grade levels.

The backpacks are a great boon, but especially in a time like this where so many have been financially hit by the pandemic, having to not worry about at least one kid’s school supplies can be a big help.

Comsewogue superintendent, Jennifer Quinn, said the backpacks do a world of good for incoming students. 

“We live in such a great community — we have so many businesses willing to help our school district and EXIT Realty is one of those,” Quinn said.

The realty office has also supported two graduating seniors with $1,000 scholarships both last year and this year. 2020 graduates and siblings Tricia Sandhala and Arav Sandhala were recipients of this year’s awards. 

Furnari said the office will continue with their backpack and scholarship donations into the future.

“We’re really excited to start the school year and end the year helping out the young generation coming in and those on their way off to college,” he said.

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Comsewogue High School. Photo by Deniz Yildirim

By Deniz Yildirim 

What is school going to be like? This is just one of the many questions people are asking as September approaches. Despite being erroneously listed as a school district who has not submitted a back to school plan by New York State, the district had actually submitted a plan to the state weeks ago and has been communicating with the community about its plans throughout the summer. 

Comsewogue School District From left: Susan Casali, Jennifer Polychronakos, Michael Mosca, Joseph Coniglione and Jennifer Quinn. Photo from David Luces

As of right now the Comsewogue school district plans to open and is offering families the choice to go back live or virtually. Once parents make a decision, administration will be able to determine how many virtual teachers they need and will then go about appointing teachers to these positions. This year will be unlike any other as the school takes creative steps to put both students’ and teachers’ health and safety first. 

Superintendent Dr. Jennifer Quinn and her team have been working tirelessly to create two plans, one for elementary and another for secondary to best meet the needs of all students. These plans have been explained in detail in videos posted on the district’s website. Elementary students who opt for live instruction will be in school everyday and classes will be split into two groups so that there are no more than 15 students in a classroom. To reduce the students exposure, groups will remain in their classroom all day, and lunch and special areas will be coming to them. Secondary students (those in grades 7-12) will follow an A/B schedule and come to school on alternating days, and their days at home will be spent participating virtually and completing work on their Google classrooms.

Though there are still a lot of questions (How will recess be managed? And How long should students stay home if they show symptoms of COVID?). It’s clear that everyone is working hard to make decisions based on research and health guidelines. 

Deniz Yildirim is a librarian at the Terryville Road Elementary School.

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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.

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One of the hardest questions for district officials is how will students use the bus alongside social distancing. Stock photo

New York State has asked school districts to come up with plans to reopen their schools, but based on state guidelines, reopening may be in a form some parents may disagree with, based on districts’ own surveys.

Assistant Superintendent Joe Coniglione and Superintendent Jennifer Quinn look at the sprouts of sunflowers in Jackie’s Garden. Photo by Andrew Harris

New York is requiring school districts submit reopening plans to the state by July 31. The state Education Department released new guidelines July 16 for school districts to help guide that decision making, though many such districts have already had committees established to help guide those plans. 

The Education Department said schools will have to perform COVID screenings of staff and students, maximize social distancing and create methods for isolating sick students before being sent home. It suggests districts use additional space, whether that’s underutilized real estate or gymnasiums, as places for teaching.

Still, Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) has said students can come back for in-person learning if their region remains in Phase 4 of reopening with an infection rate below 5 percent on a 14-day average. Schools will close again if the region breaks a 9 percent infection rate after Aug. 1. 

Though many school districts have sent surveys to parents asking what their plans for their children are, few have released their results so far. Those that have show some majority of parents want their kids back in the classroom come fall. Superintendent of the Hauppauge School District Dennis O’Hara said during a Newsday-hosted forum last week that among 2,300 respondents, 90 percent said they would like to see their children back in school. 

The Comsewogue School District is one of the few to have publicly released the results of that survey, which show the majority of parents say they will be sending their kids back into school this fall. 

The Comsewogue School District, which includes over 3,700 students, received 1,187 responses to its survey. The district reported almost 60 percent of respondents, or 699, would send their children to school; 181 said they would not; while 307 were still undecided. 

In that survey, 361 parents said they would need childcare provided by the district.

“I think we have to get a plan in place that is comfortable for parents, but what is right for one family might not be right for another family,” said Comsewogue Superintendent Jennifer Quinn. “We’re going to give parents the opportunity to make the decision that’s best for them.”

Quinn added the district expects 80 percent of its students to come back for the fall semester. Finalized plans will reveal what can be done for the 20 percent whose parents decide not to send them back.

Comsewogue’s reopening committees were formed earlier in the spring and have met with the teachers unions and administrators. Those suggestions will circle back, and tentative plans will be presented to teachers at each building and then later to the community.

The district plans to host two Q&A sessions for parents of kids in grades K-6 July 27 at 7:30 p.m. and July 28 at 11 a.m. via Zoom. Information on joining these meetings can be found on the district’s website at www.comsewoguek12.ny.us. Comsewogue plans to host future meetings for grades 7-12. The district will announce when its final plan has been approved and finalized on the district’s website and social media before the end of the month.

“We’re trying to bring back as many kids as we can, as often as we can,” Quinn said. 

What that will look like is still to be determined. The district can confirm that all special education and English-language leaner students will be back in school every day in the school week. Quinn said the district hopes they can bring elementary students back full time, though that is more circumspect for the higher grade levels. If the committee determines they cannot safely have all kids back in school full time, they will be put on an alternating A-day, B-day schedule.

“I don’t think it’s ideal, but we’re going to have to do the best we can,” the superintendent said. 

For students who may have to continue learning online, at home, Quinn said there are renewed efforts to further develop distance learning, particularly with a heavier emphasis on interaction with fellow classmates and teachers.

Perhaps the most challenging conundrum is transportation. In the survey, a plurality of 42 percent of respondents said their children would take the bus, while 24 percent said they would take personal transportation, while 33 percent were still undecided.

Yet how a district can possibly work out a bus fleet that can maintain social distancing and get all kids to school on time will still be a major challenge. The district hopes that many more parents will personally transport their children.

“We really want our kids back for the first day of school,” Quinn said. “There’s an emotional component to this and the pandemic, with kids not being in school and not being with their friends and teachers … we’re confident if we can bring them back in small groups, we can meet their needs.”

Comsewogue's 2017 senior class tosses its caps. Photo by Jill Webb

Several school districts on the North Shore held off confirming their graduation ceremony dates, waiting to see if New York State would change its limitations on commencements, namely the 150 person limit per event.

That didn’t happen, and now several school districts, including Comsewogue and Miller Place, are planning their ceremonies for the end of this month.


In a letter to parents signed by high school principal Michael Mosca, the Comsewogue School District announced it will host 3 separate ceremonies for the class of 2020 July 23. A rain date is set for July 24. 

The classes will be broken up by last names with:

Last names A-F at 3 p.m.

Last names G-M at 5:30 p.m.

Last names N-Z at 8 p.m.

Graduatesare asked to come with family in one vehicle at least 30 minutes prior to the scheduled session, and will park facing the high school football field and two large video walls to give a close up view of the commencement ceremony. Graduates will exit the car to check in with faculty, complete a COVID questionnaire and get their line up assignment. Families must remain in their cars, while the ceremony will be broadcasted on FM radio and streamed on the district’s Facebook page.

After the ceremony, graduates will have a formal recessional off the field and go directly to their vehicles, which will then be cleared to allow the next group.

Miller Place

In a letter signed by Superintendent Marianne Cartisano, the Miller Place School District has set two separate graduation ceremonies for the class of 2020 July 24 with a raine date of July 25. It will take place outside in the Miller Place High School stadium field.

The names will be broken up by last names as follows:

Last names A-L at 3 p.m.

Last names M-Z at 7 p.m.

Each family is allowed two guests per graduate.

Ceremonies will also be live streamed on the date, and links will be available at a time closer to the commencement date.

“We know this is not the optimum plan for seniors and their families, as we all hoped we would be able to gather and celebrate in one ceremony,” Cartisano wrote in the letter.

More details will be mailed to parents in the near future.

This post will be updated with other school district’s plans for graduations when those become available.


Comsewogue 2020 Valedictorian Daniela Galvez-Cepeda and Salutatorian Gianna Alcala. Photos from CSD

Two young women lead the top of the class at Comsewogue High School. Valedictorian Daniela Galvez-Cepeda and salutatorian Gianna Alcala have near-identical grade point averages, but both have far different plans for their futures.

Galvez-Cepeda finished the year with a weighted GPA of 102.42. During school, she spent much of her time as student government co-president and French Honor Society president, a member of varsity track and field and Athlete Helping Athletes. In addition, she is a National Hispanic Recognition Scholar, Women in Science and Engineering team member at Stony Brook University and a National Merit Scholar Commended Student. 

In her free time, she said she was a junior volunteer at Mather Hospital, where since 2017 she answered visitors’ questions at the front desk in both English and Spanish and provided them with comfort when needed. She also shadowed nurses on their rounds with patients.

She said her best memory of high school was her work setting up a donation drive the school organized in 2017 to help the people in Puerto Rico hurt by Hurricane Maria.

“I walked back and forth from the parking lot, unloading cars and trucks and bringing donations into our school’s auditorium,” she said. “My district neighbors were so generous that we filled up our whole auditorium with donations in only one day.”

In the fall, Galvez-Cepeda will be attending Williams College in Massachusetts where she will double major in math and physics on the pre-med track. She said her goal is to be a trauma surgeon, but she added she is excited to explore other options down the road.

Alcala is moving on to college with a 102.26 weighted GPA. She is a National Merit Scholarship Commended Scholar, Women in Science and Engineering at Stony Brook University, Art Honor Society president, Science Honor Society treasurer, as well as a member of the cross-country, Country Farms equestrian team and band.

She said her experiences with WISE and Art Honor Society were especially important to her high school career, though her favorite memory was traveling abroad with classmates to Spain, France and Italy.

Though she thanked her friends, family and teachers for inspiring her, she added that Galvez-Cepeda, her friend and competitor for the top academic spot, was also a huge inspiration.

“For the past seven years, Dani has been my most brilliant competitor and one of the most kind and generous people I’ve ever known,” Alcala said. “Without her impact on my life, I wouldn’t be half the person I am today.”

The salutatorian will be attending the University of Southern California, Viterbi School of Engineering to study environmental engineering. She said she wants to work toward a more sustainable world, especially in the textile industry. 

Though the coronavirus cut off in-person learning prematurely for the 2020 senior class, the high school’s academic leaders said though they lacked physical contact with teachers and peers, the important thing is to persevere.

“High school is the foundation that is setting you up for the success that is to come in your life,” Galvez-Cepeda said. “So, enjoy your time with your friends while learning new things in a safe space together.”

Comsewogue Assistant Superintendent Joseph Coniglione and Superintendent Jessica Quinn delivered cap and gowns to high school seniors June 8. Photo from Quinn’s Facebook

With graduation plans interrupted due to the pandemic, local school districts are trying to find unique options to give seniors their send-off.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) signed an executive order June 7 that allowed districts to have in-person socially distanced graduations for up to 150 people after June 26. Comsewogue High School, with around 320 students graduating this year, has opted instead to hold several ceremonies online in the latter half of June. 

“Our plan is socially distant and safe,” said Superintendent Jennifer Quinn.

While graduation is still scheduled for July 23, the district is planning a car parade send-off. Seniors will be asked to drive through the front bus loop at the high school on Thursday, June 25, between 12 and 1 p.m. The district expects to play music and have lawn signs with the name and picture for each graduate. Staff is expected to come to the building and cheer passing seniors.

The district is also planning several virtual and distanced events after classes officially end June 16. The district will host a Varsity Awards Night Friday, June 19, at 6 p.m., a Senior Scholarship Night, June 22 at 6:30 p.m. and a Virtual Senior Prom June 23 at 8 p.m., all via Zoom. The district will then host a senior slideshow drive-in movie June 24 at 7:30 and 9 p.m. at the high school south parking lot.

Port Jefferson School District, with a graduating class of just 85, is instead pushing its graduation tentatively to Aug 1 (rain date Aug.2), hopeful that New York continues its trend of declining infections and deaths. 

Port Jeff Superintendent Jessica Schmettan said that date was decided before the June 7 executive order, but in a poll senior students overwhelmingly asked for a later event that can be held in person. Village of Port Jefferson officials have notified the district theywill allow the district to use the Village Center for both this activity and its senior prom, which is also tentatively scheduled for a day or two after graduation.

“We’re waiting to see if gathering limits are lifted a little bit more and have more guests and families there like we usually have,” Schmettan said.

The village is also giving a unique opportunity for seniors, using its drive-in movies and showing the John Hughes classic “The Breakfast Club” June 20 exclusively for graduating seniors at its location uptown in the parking lot north of the train station. The village is paying for the drive-in expenses.