Herricks officials discuss reopening plans

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The Herricks Board of Education and school administrators discussed the district's reopening plans on Monday night. (Screenshot from YouTube)
The Herricks Board of Education and school administrators discussed the district's reopening plans on Monday night. (Screenshot from YouTube)

Herricks school district officials discussed plans for reopening schools on Monday night, suggesting they will not compromise the health, safety or education of their students.

Superintendent Fino Celano said there will be many changes, including different classroom setups, the temporary elimination of in-person after-school activities, and health and safety protocols “more stringent” than current federal guidelines.

“We will work together to provide a top quality education to Herricks students as we always have,” Celano said. “The challenges in front of us mean that things need to change.”

While confirmed coronavirus cases and deaths have continued rising nationwide, the rate of new cases and fatalities significantly dropped in Nassau County and New York state since the virus peaked in April.

Elizabeth Guercin, the assistant superintendent for instruction, said secondary students will be divided into two cohorts and follow a hybrid schedule of remote learning and in-person instruction. Elementary school students will return to school full-time based on schedules determined by building administrators.

There will also be staggered student arrivals, options for fully remote learning, and daily access to classrooms for those with special needs, Guercin said.

The schedules will be built to allow for flexibility with students and teachers, Guercin also said.

“It’s not a perfect schedule, but it’s certainly a schedule that tries to address the many concerns that we have for our students,” Guercin said.

Dina Maggiacomo, the assistant superintendent for human resources, emphasized the importance of hygiene, social distancing, training and health checks.

Desks will be spaced six feet apart, masks must be worn at all times, and staff members will be trained to look out for COVID-19 systems, teach proper hand and respiratory hygiene, and how to use face masks, Maggiacomo said. Having some classes outdoors and windows and doors open are also encouraged.

“It’s very important that we don’t forget these rules: wear a mask, wash your hands, and keep six feet social distance,” Maggiacomo said.

The campuses will be closed down to where only essential visitors, such as those connected with educational programs, will be allowed in after a screening. Appointments must be approved. All other meetings, Maggiacomo said, will take place virtually over Google Meets.

Students and staff members also need to fill out surveys and are encouraged to submit a temperature check from home before coming to school, she said.

In the event of a possible coronavirus case, procedures call for an adult to go home immediately. A child, situated in a quarantine room with an adult, would be picked up by a parent. Both are advised to contact a health care provider and get tested.

A response team would begin the process of contact tracing, using the logs kept in every office and room, and ask people questions about mask wearing, conversation time and social distancing, Maggiacomo said.

The district would work with the Department of Health to figure out if a class needs to be quarantined, she said, and a guidance letter would go out to families whose children might have been exposed.

If there is a positive case, everyone would be removed from a classroom. The room would be closed down for 24 hours and then cleaned extensively by custodial staff before anyone is allowed back in.

Masks or other personal protective equipment will be made available to anyone who wants them, Maggiacomo also noted.

The district’s meeting can be found on the district website or via YouTube. The full presentation can also be read here: https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1ufsqgmluW6zILKV8_uHrqeXCzcid-AwGfS6QMEzoqIo/edit#slide=id.g8f77116acf_4_5

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