With the school year set to get under way next month, the Hewlett-Woodmere School District laid out more in-depth details for its reopening plan in-person in the Hewlett High School auditorium at the Aug. 18 Board of Education meeting, with an accompanied livestream.
Recent district hire interim Deputy Superintendent David Flatley credited the group of school officials and community members who helped create the plan. “Kudos to our reopening task force which started long before I came to the district,” Flatley said. “They split up into different groups and worked hard to help come up with our reopening plan.” Flatley joined the district on July 1.
The task force was formed in late June and dealt with a myriad of topics that included: transportation, facilities, health/safety, instruction, building practices and extracurricular activities.
Superintendent Dr. Ralph Marino Jr. described the process of putting together the plan as unprecedented. “The week of July 13, we received guidance from the State Education Department when we were supposed to have that guidance the first week of June,” he said. “When we received that guidance we had two weeks to submit our plans to the state, that gave us only four weeks to implement our plan.”
The current plan calls for online and hybrid instruction to begin on Tuesday, Sept. 8. Full-person instruction is tentatively scheduled for Oct. 5. The district recently sent out a survey to parents where nearly 72 percent of district parents surveyed chose full in-person instruction and 17 percent picked the hybrid model — a combination of remote learning and in-person teaching — while 11.4 percent opted for full online instruction.
Flatley also discussed the circumstances if there were to be a confirmed positive case of coronavirus among a student or staff member. “We will work with our county department of health regarding immediate actions and direction for returning individuals to school,” he said. “At the direction of the department of health, we will alert individuals in close contact and prepare to close classrooms and buildings.”
Gov. Andrew Cuomo has said that schools are mandated to close if the region’s infection rate is greater than nine percent using a seven-day average after Aug. 1.
When it comes to safety protocols, Flatley acknowledged that personal protective equipment such as a facemask or face covering would be provided to students and faculty who do not have them. “The determination as to the need to wear a facemask and the process by which mask breaks will be provided is still being kicked around by the task force,” he said. “This is right at the top of our agenda for our next task force meeting.”
Hewlett resident Claire Glassman expressed her concerns about the mask wearing protocols. “I know people may have different beliefs than I do on this, but I would really like to urge the members of the task force to strongly consider the implications of not enforcing a mandated mask rule at all times,” Glassman said. “I have significant concerns as do many other people about the ramifications of not making this a mandate.” Flatley reiterated that the task force would continue discussing the matter.
The district’s reopening plans can be viewed at, https://bit.ly/3iUgUNy.