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New York State schools closed until April 1, governor orders


Gov. Andrew Cuomo has ordered all schools across New York state to be closed until April 1 amid the coronavirus outbreak.

The educational institutions in the Five Towns are working on teaching their students remotely and helping to ensure that students receive breakfast and lunch during what was the regular school week.

In the Hewlett-Woodmere School District, administrators and teachers were working on coordinating learning and providing bagged breakfast and lunch to all students on the free and reduced meal program, district officials said.

Meals can be picked up at a “drive-thru window” between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m., starting today at Hewlett High School. Enter trough the East Rockaway Road entrance and follow security guard directions.

Adhering to the public non-gathering rules that have been mandated by the state, the district live streamed the March 18 Board of Education meeting, will live stream the March 19 budget meeting and the public budget forum on March 24.

“A link will be posted on our website to the view the live stream,” officials said. “[The] public will not be permitted to attend.” The website is www.hewlett-woodmere.net/.

Beginning on March 18, free breakfast and lunch for all Lawrence School District students will be distributed at the Number Two and Four schools from 9 to 11 a.m., Monday through Friday. Walk up and drive-thru available, school officials said. 

“We all must make health our first priority,” Superintendent Dr. Ann Pedersen said. “We will share educational plans shortly, but first priority for you and your children is to stay as safe as possible.”

The district planed to close for three days, March 16, 17 and 18, before all schools were declared closed initially by Nassau County Exeutive Laura Curran. Teachers were working on learning iTutor to teach the students remotely.

“Based on the still standing 180 rule (180 days of state mandated instruction), it appears the spring break is off. There’s more to come as this unfolds and we must take it step by step. Families should be reminded about social distancing and stay informed,” Pedersen said, adding that after the

Nassau superintendents met on March 16, they were drafting a letter that was sent to the interim state commissioner of education requesting that the schools follow New York City’s lead and not reopen until April 20.

The Hebrew Academy of the Five Towns and Rockaway was closed on March 13 and 16. Staff came in for professional development on March 13 to prepare for remote learning.

HAFTR High School Principal Naomi Lippman said that the teachers have been preparing to use Google classroom and Zoom and will use Monday as another day of training. “Everyone here is 100 percent committed, with a sense of a commitment, sense of purpose and a sense of optimism.”

Executive Director Ari Solomon said that all the divisions are working hard to learn how to best use videos, work sheets and one-on-one virtual learning and combination of all three for the best educational experience.

“This is uncharted territory and we know children have different capacities to stay focuses,” Solomon said, that he was aiming for March 17 for the virtual learning to get underway. 

Peninsula Public Library in Lawrence, which services the Lawrence School District, will be closed from March 14 to at least March 31, library officials said.

“Loan periods on items will be extended and any fines on items returned late due to our closure will be waived. Programs will be rescheduled if time permits,” officials stated in its announcement.

The Hewlett-Woodmere Public Library posted an announcement that it will be closed for the next two weeks as well. Should parents be looking for eBooks, information or magazines they can go to hwpl.org/covid19/.