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North Shore reacts to coronavirus school closures

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All Nassau County schools will be closed for two weeks as of Monday, by order of Nassau County Executive Laura Curran.

Curran made the announcement Sunday morning as health and school officials look to contain the spread of the coronavirus, which has claimed the lives of three New Yorkers, both of whom had underlying health conditions, and infected more than 900 people statewide.

Schools will be closed for students, but administrators and teachers may still enter buildings. 

According to a memo to Nassau County superintendents from Curran, school districts are allowed to:

Ask 12-month employees to report to their buildings.

Provide professional development instruction to staff.

Provide distance learning if necessary.

A memorandum circulating in the Hewlett-Woodmere School District stated that transportation for non-public schools would not be provided during this period. It was unclear if that would be the case in all districts.

According to a statement from superintendent Dr. Peter Giarrizzo on the North Shore district’s website, he virtually met with 164 of the district’s teachers via Google Hangout on Tuesday morning. He said teachers are working with him and Dr. Chris Zublionis, Assistant Superintendent for Instruction, on conducting classes remotely with students, which could start on Friday.

Giarrizzo also said each school will receive deep cleanings and all classrooms will undergo vaporizing and disinfection in preparation for the return of students. He said the district is doing its best to keep parents and students up to date as the situation develops.

I wish everyone continued good health and good spirits,” Giarrizzo concludes his statement. “…As our remote learning starts to unfurl, there will surely be opportunities for your children to share what they are up to. Most importantly, please remember — as we Vikings endure, continue exercising patience and kindheartedness. Stay the course and we will all get through this together!”

Dave Ludmar, vice president of the North Shore Board of Education, said the district was prepared for the closures beforehand just in case this situation arose.

“I think it’s something we knew was coming,” he said. “Although we had a plan in place, we knew that the ground would continue shifting under our feet and we’re thankful that our administration is continuing to keep the safety of our students and staff at the forefront.”

Moving forward, Ludmar said the district is putting steps in place to implement distance learning if that is required. He also said it is looking to accommodate students who rely on the district for meals or for the technology required to participate in online learning.

Ludmar is also a district parent, with two children in North Shore Middle School. As a parent, he said that, while it is important to keep education on track, the safety of students and staff are what is most important.

“I think it’s wise,” Ludmar said. “I think that if they’re going to be out long term, we’re going need to have to some learning in place. You can’t have long term gaps where they miss instruction, but on the other hand, if it takes a few days to get that set up, I would place safety and health over specific learning.”