Weber closed for COVID case as Port district plans for elementary students to return to full-time in-person

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The Port Washington school district has announced that students at the district's elementary schools, including those at South Salem Elementary School, will resume full-time in-person classes on Monday, Sept. 29. (Photo courtesy of Google Maps)

Elementary students in the Port Washington school district will resume full-time in-person classes on Monday, Superintendent Michael J. Hynes announced in a letter to the community last Friday.

The news came only days before the district confirmed that a case of COVID-19 had been found at Carrie Palmer Weber Middle School, with the school scheduled to shut down Tuesday for cleaning “out of an abundance of caution” and reopening Wednesday.

Regarding the much-discussed phase-in, Hynes said that all children and teachers in the  elementary schools have received “computing devices for instruction,” that desk shields and HEPA filters had been installed in all instructional spaces, and that students and staff have successfully negotiated both in-person and remote learning.

Arrival, departure and bus riding procedures were also said to be fine-tuned, “as have day-to-day needs in this new normal; such as, mask wearing, social distancing and hand washing.”

“After checking with all of the elementary principals, I am happy to report that we can begin a safe and orderly return of all elementary students to their respective schools and classrooms beginning Tuesday, Sept. 29,” Hynes wrote. “Of course, we will continue to monitor the situation carefully as we move into October.”

The move comes almost a month after the district announced in August that elementary students would be given the option of an entirely remote learning experience or a hybrid method where students would be given two days of in-person learning.

After learning that their children would not have the option of a five-day in-person schedule for the school year, parents of students at Guggenheim Elementary School, Manorhaven Elementary School, John J. Daly Elementary School, John Philip Sousa Elementary School and South Salem Elementary School held a demonstration outside the district offices and sent the administration a petition with over 1,000 signatures claiming that medical evidence supported a return to full-time classes.

Hynes had said at the time that the choice to not include an option for full-time in-person instruction for elementary schools came after the Port Washington Teachers Association expressed concerns about the faculty’s return to full-time in-person classes. Efforts to reach the teachers union for comment were unavailing.

Shortly afterward, the district announced that it had restructured the elementary plan so that students would be phased in over the month of September, with full-time classes originally projected to begin in October.

The news also comes after the district announced that two confirmed cases of COVID-19 had been found in one student each at Schreiber High School and Daly Elementary, leading to a one-day closure for both schools.

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