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East Meadow adjusts to learning from home

Teachers, administrators take extra steps to make students comfortable

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While students adjust to a remote-learning environment, teachers and administration in the East Meadow School District are taking steps to bring the classroom to the living room — literally.

Kerry Dunne, the principal of McVey Elementary School, has been uploading the school’s morning announcements to the YouTube channel “Good Day McVey.”

On Monday, she uploaded the announcements from her home, and stood in front of a McVey banner draped over her TV. The video began with her wishing happy birthday to students born on March 23.

All work is posted on the district’s website, including preparation for the English Language Arts tests, despite the State Education Department’s delay in shipping the test for grades three through eight, which were scheduled to arrive in schools March 16-18.

The district has also been using Google Classroom, a free web service through which teachers communicate with and offer lessons to their students.

Teachers and staff members like Dunne are making additional efforts. In each video, she presents a series of challenges for students while they learn at home. One of them is to start a joke book, “so we could help make the world a brighter place right now by making people laugh,” she said, adding that students and their parents could e-mail their jokes to her at Kdunne@emufsd.com.

Another component of remote learning at McVey is the “Invention Convention,” in which students are encouraged to create things out of common household items, like paper clips and rubber bands.

“[She] never stops caring,” Patsy Mustafich, a McVey parent, said of Dunne. “She has brought tears to many parents’ eyes by bringing some normalcy to our homes.”

Dunne’s videos conclude with a quote, which she calls the McVey “Mighty-Kind Moment of the Day.” Monday’s read, “Deep within are the stars that brighten the sky.”

“We’ve been talking about how we could lift others,” Dunne said. “And how we could make a decision to be happy.” She explained that the quote was a metaphor for how her students could brighten their lives and the lives of the people around them by telling jokes, making inventions and being kind and compassionate toward one another.

The school district also sent a letter to parents, signed by its social workers, offering resources for students to cope with the pandemic. “In these times of uncertainty, we understand that our students may be in need of additional support and stability,” it read.

The letter recommended that parents engage have honest conversations with their children if they ask about the coronavirus, and limit their exposure to social media and news about the pandemic. “Even though there is panic and hysteria that comes out of a situation like this, it still allows us to slow down and be able to spend time with family that an otherwise busy lifestyle may not allow,” it read. “Please use this time to reconnect with family members by going back to basics; family dinners, board games, household activities and outside exercise while maintaining routine and structure. Keep dialogues going and lean on each other for support.”

The district also urged parents to reach out to their schools’ social workers if their children need additional support or resources, and reminded them to call the Long Island Crisis Center if they need immediate assistance. The Bellmore-based mental health service is available at all times at (516) 679-1111 or by text at 741741.

The district also offers child-care services for students whose parents are still working through SCOPE Education Services. Parents must register for services that are provided Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. for children ages 4 through 12 in pre-K through sixth grade.

“SCOPE is pleased to be able to provide this much-needed service to those who are serving on the front lines during this health crisis,” said George Duffy, SCOPE’s executive director and chief executive officer.

The program was developed in collaboration with the Nassau County Council of School Superintendents and Nassau BOCES. To register, visit the SCOPE website at www.scopeonline.us.