The Bellmore-Merrick Central High School District and its four component elementary school districts will conclude the semester — and months of remote learning — on Wednesday, June 17. High school students will continue distance learning until Friday, June 12, after which fourth-quarter grades will be compiled.
The five districts — which includes the Bellmore, North Bellmore, Merrick and North Merrick school districts — coordinated the plan for a smooth finish to the school year throughout the community, said Central Superintendent John DeTommaso.
Central District teachers and administrators will finalize grades from Monday, June 15 to Wednesday, June 17, after which report cards will be distributed.
“We wanted to make sure school ended at the same time for parents, so they won’t have to deal with a middle school kid or a high school kid ending at different times,” DeTommaso said. “Families can put the 2019-20 school year to rest on June 17.”
Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum Michael Harrington said he feels “heartbroken” that the semester will conclude online, keeping teachers and students from saying their goodbyes.
“We go into this line of work to be with kids,” Harrington said. “Not having schools full of kids is heartbreaking. As happy as we are with the distance learning program, nothing takes the place of in-person learning.”
The cancelation of statewide Regents Exams and the district’s decision to cancel all final exams and continue distance learning through spring recess were all deciding factors in determining the school year’s end date. The Central district’s final day of instruction was originally scheduled for June 11.
The district is still examining how to calculate final grades — a complicated procedure that will factor in equity and Internet access between students — but a pass/fail system will most likely be used, DeTommaso said.
Administrators do not yet know if distance learning will be mandated by the state next school year, but if it is, the district is ready to “hit the ground running,” Harrington said. The goal is to have “as much live teaching as possible,” but the possibility of a “hybrid” semester — where students would switch between distance and in-person learning — is being discussed, he added.
Academic Refresher Courses
The Central High School District plans to offer students Academic Refresher Courses at the start of the 2020-21 school year. The program will give students an extra “boost,” DeTommaso said, by preparing them for the school year through a series of courses in each subject. The courses will be separate from summer school, however — those plans have yet to be finalized.
The Academic Refresher Courses will be offered to all students, and will consist of pre-recorded videos and live sessions with teachers. The voluntary courses are aimed at students who want to get a leg-up before the next school year. Since a break from in-person instruction can cause learning gaps, Harrington said, the courses would allow students to refresh their knowledge.
“There are areas in each subject where we can give additional instruction and invite kids to Zoom meetings where they can go over specific topics,” DeTommaso said. “It’s not re-teaching, it’s looking at what we can strengthen.”
The courses will focus on the core subjects taught in school and observe the question, “What skills need to be reinforced prior to the next semester?” Harrington said. “If we identify a student [that’s] struggling, we’ll encourage them to take advantage of the courses.”