Districts have slowly been unveiling reopening plans for the 2021-2022 school year. Below are local plans for the Center Moriches Union Free School District, East Moriches School District and Eastport-South Manor School District.
Dr. Ronald Masera, superintendent, Center Moriches Union Free School District, would not comment on any specific plan for the district yet.
“We will be making a community reopening presentation at our Aug. 25, Board of Education meeting,” he said.
In an Aug. 13 letter to the community, available on the district’s website, Masera wrote, “As you can imagine, we have been anxiously awaiting guidance for reopening since the conclusion of the 2020-21 school year in June. You may have seen in the media that school districts in our county finally received such guidance this week from both the New York State Education Department and the Suffolk County Department of Health Services.”
Masera continued, stating that reopening committees are working to figure out plans for the school year and that they are consulting with guidance they received to make those decisions.
“As we review the guidelines we have received, it is clear they align closely with those from the Center for Disease Control regarding items such as masking, distancing and quarantines,” he added.
Masera also warned that a countywide increase in infections due to the Delta variant is cause for extra caution when planning to reopen.
“At this time, the entire country, including Suffolk County, continues to see a daily increase in the infection rates due to the Delta variant. While our goal is to reopen our schools as close to normal as possible, we can anticipate that these guidelines will bring limitations and restrictions to some district operations.”
With school slated to open Sept. 1, an “Opening of School Plan” was posted to the district’s website. The plan outlined recommendations that the school board is set to vote on at an Aug. 25 meeting. The recommendations include mask-wearing, social distancing, contact tracing, remote learning and more.
In regard to masks, students will be required to wear them while on school transportation but not while outdoors. Mask-wearing will also be “highly recommended” while indoors.
The proposed opening plan said this of mask-wearing: “Consistent with the information shared by the Center for Disease Control, the New York State Education Department and the Suffolk County Department of Health Services, it is highly recommended and encouraged that all students and staff wear masks while indoors at school.”
The district said that as per guidelines, positive cases of COVID-19 will be reported to the SCDHS as they were in the past.
District guidelines for social distancing are nondescript, with the proposed plan stating only that students and faculty will be “distanced to the maximum extent feasible in each area of the building.”
The proposal shows the district is loosening some restrictions. As an example, students will not be required to provide daily health screenings or daily temperature checks. Also, sports, extracurricular activities, and field trips are back on. Student-athletes won’t be required to provide a COVID-19 test to participate in sports. Spectators will be able to attend events and are required to wear masks indoors.
In the last few sentences of the proposal, the district warned that once the plan is approved by the BOE, it is subject to change based on government mandates and a rise in COVID-19 cases.
District representatives wouldn’t answer calls or emails for comment or clarification on the reopening plan.
An “Opening Plan” presentation was uploaded to the district’s website. The presentation is part of a “public packet” for an Aug. 25 BOE meeting. All other references to reopening on the website are from the 2020-2021 school year and are currently void.
The public packet presentation pointed out that 77.9 percent of parents were comfortable sending their children back to school in September 2021. The presentation also outlined plans for the district’s Sept. 1 opening (students’ first day is Sept. 2). The district will follow an in-person model for learning, as well as a remote model and a hybrid model.
In the presentation, a slide asked the question, “What would the in-person setting look like?” with bulleted points below, including: cleaning, training for staff, personal protective equipment, hand-washing, social distancing, student cohorts, adjusted dismissal and arrival procedures, limited sharing of items, daily health checks and open communication. These bulleted points would likely be further expounded upon at the Aug. 25 BOE meeting.
The presentation also had a slide for the “Governor’s formula to reopen” and bulleted points for the remote and hybrid-learning models.
District officials wouldn’t comment on the reopening plan; as of right now, no decision has been made for September.
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