As various institutions around the country attempt to restore some level of normalcy to their operations, the Herricks school district on Tuesday held its first in-person Board of Education meeting since March 12.
In a scene that has become familiar in the era of COVID-19, the meeting was held in the Herricks Community Center cafeteria with a 25-person occupancy limit, chairs spread six feet apart and board members each sitting at individual tables and speaking into microphones.
Board President Juleigh Chin ended her two-year tenure at the meeting. Henry Zanetti was sworn in as the new president; he had previously served as the board’s vice president.
“Good riddance to the last school year,” Chin said of the 2019-20 academic year, which was severely disrupted by the outbreak of the virus.
Superintendent Dr. Fino Celano addressed the board, and the members of the public, on where the district stood on plans to reopen schools in the fall. A task force of about 50 people has been convened to address the reopening issue, divided into four subcommittees. The subcommittees are instruction, mental health, operations and health and safety.
Celano said there are three possibilities for reopening: all students may return on a normal schedule, all students must continue purely online learning or a hybrid of the two where students could alternate days they come in.
One member of the public who was in attendance, who said she was a parent of a Herricks student, said she had heard some surrounding school districts had considered allowing only the elementary students to return to in-person classes while secondary students stay on remote learning, and she was concerned about this notion. Celano acknowledged that some other districts had brought that idea up, but that was not being considered in Herricks at this time.
Celano said he was frustrated by the lack of guidance that school districts have received from the state and Gov. Andrew Cuomo. He said the governor had asked that school districts come up with plans to reopen but that ultimately, the decision of which of those plans are implemented will come down to the governor’s decision.
“I’m confident we will come up with a plan that will work,” Celano said.
He said the district has been stocking up on necessary supplies to be able to reopen within health and safety guidelines. These include cleaning supplies, masks and shields, among other things.