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Rockville Centre School Board meets virtually

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The Rockville Centre Board of Education and administration came together on Thursday, April 2, for a different type of public work session: a virtual videoconference, live streamed to the public.

The five board members and central office administrative staff joined the meeting from their homes, allowing the community to watch via the district’s YouTube channel. The meeting, kept to under an hour and on point, centered around a discussion on the district’s move to distance learning.

“We’re trying to maintain a system,” Superintendent Dr. William Johnson said, “and make sure that children who are attending our schools are being provided with opportunities to be instructed every single day.”

He said the district has received a lot of inquiries about moving to live instruction, which is not yet in place.

“I’m not taking it off the table at this point,” Johnson said, “I think all of us working with this recognize that, as we move through this instructional period of time, it will become more important for teachers to maintain live contact with kids.”

Johnson also gave an update on the grading process.

“We have been struggling with the idea of what kind of grades we should be providing to students at the high school and the middle school,” Johnson said, noting that it’s not an issue at the elementary school. “At the elementary level, what’s important is providing meaningful feedback.”

The consensus, not just within the administration, but also around the county, is to go with a pass/fail for the third quarter, he said.

“We’re trying to make decisions incrementally,” Johnson said. “There are many things connected to the grades and we’ll have to deal with them as we move forward.”

Board Vice President Susan McNulty asked if there were still plans to hold the Regents exams.

“The likelihood of the Regents being given this year is very slim,” Johnson said, noting he is hoping to hear about the official status of the exams sometime next week. “The opportunity to provide instruction statewide has been seriously compromised because of the remote learning environment in which we have to work right now, and so it’s unlikely we would get be able to get valid results.”

Addressing the status of the school facilities, Johnson said they had tried to keep them open for community use, proactively closing all playgrounds early on, yet keeping the fields and track open. However, he said, they became too crowded as people were not following the social distancing recommendations, and were forced to close them last Friday, March 27.

“We are a system and are trying to be responsive to the needs of the community,” Johnson said. “It is an ever-evolving response that we have…we welcome emails to the district…to the extent that we can, we try to address [questions and concerns] in the correspondence we send out three times a week. We are doing everything we possibly we can to ensure the integrity of instruction is maintained over time.”