Discussion of how and if there will be in-person classes in the fall was the main item on the agenda at Tuesday’s meeting of the Mineola Board of Education, which was conducted virtually over WebEx.
“I have many different plans. I don’t know which one we’re going to use because I don’t have guidance on what’s best practice,” Superintendent Michael Nagler said to the board, speaking of the uncertain nature of the coronavirus pandemic.
Nagler said he has been discussing with other superintendents in the area what their plans are for reopening. In Mineola, he said, he believes the elementary schools will be less of a challenge to reopen logistically than the secondary schools.
Nagler listed four major areas that need to be addressed. One is how actual classroom instruction will work and how to space students appropriately. Second is how to clean the facilities, which could be done by a series of disinfecting steps that the board had approved.
Third is transportation, as in how many students could fit on buses at once and whether two rounds of bus trips could be done if needed.
Fourth was personal protective equipment. Nagler said he is leaning toward using face shields rather than masks. He said he believes this is more conducive toward children’s needs since the shields discourage face-touching and allow for viewing of other people’s facial expressions.
Nagler said the biggest question, which he hopes to receive guidance on, is what happens if there is a positive case in a school. He plans to send a survey to parents once a plan is made to inquire if they are comfortable sending their child back to school in such a setting.
A tentative date for graduation has been set for Aug. 8, and the details of that ceremony will be decided in the coming weeks, Nagler said. Although New Jersey just raised its limit on crowds to 500 people, the ceremony will have to be a drive-though event, the type that has become common since the pandemic started, unless New York raises its limit on crowds as well.
The final matter discussed was that an additional bus lane will be set up at Meadow Drive School, which will eliminate a number of spaces in the parking lot. As a result, a small parking lot will be placed on Willow Place, by the playground that currently sits there.
Board members said they are aware this has distressed some residents, who are concerned about property values and increased car traffic. Trustee Patrick Talty said he has looked into the property value issue, and he doesn’t believe that the change will have a significant effect on property value of nearby houses.