At the first Board of Education meeting of the new year, Seaford Union Free School District superintendent Dr. Adele Pecora provided an overview of how the district has been providing a safe return to district buildings for Seaford students, faculty and staff.
Students returned to school on Jan. 3, with regular in-person instruction. As per a Jan. 1 letter on the district website, athletics and extra-curricular activities remain available for students.
At the board meeting, Dr. Pecora offered a summary of the district’s Covid-19 at-home testing kit distribution that was recently rolled out. Through a collaborative effort among staff and administrators, test kits were distributed Jan. 4 and 5 at Seaford High School. One kit was available per student.
For district parents to receive a kit for their child, they needed to submit a digital request form and pick up the test in person.
Dr. Pecora noted that the test distribution to families was completely voluntary. All parents received information about how to obtain a kit. The distribution process went “smoothly,” she said.
“We tried to make it as easy as possible for the parents to acquire the at-home testing kits,” she said.
As of the meeting, the district had distributed 1,170 tests, Dr. Pecora said. The district had not required that parents who use the test kits notify the district of the results of the test. “We suggested that you use the at-home test if your child is symptomatic, but once parents have the test, they can use them as they see fit with their children. However, obviously, if a child tests positive, we would like to be notified as soon as possible,” she said.”
Test-to-stay initiatives were also briefly discussed at the board meeting. Test-to-stay is a practice used by school districts in an effort to minimize absenteeism and learning loss, which can occur during at-home quarantining.
At this time, Nassau County has not adopted a countywide test-to-stay policy. Dr. Pecora said that even if a test-to-stay option was adopted, it would likely not be put in place in a meaningful way.
“The criteria is that … Covid would have to be transmitted during the school day or activities,” she explained. Currently, very few cases are being traced back to the school, she said. Further, for a child to stay in the classroom, they would need to be administered three Covid-19 tests along the process, which could utilize resources.
Since the beginning of the school year, Pecora said, employees who are not vaccinated must get a Covid-19 test once a week. All employees are able to obtain a test outside of school or a PCR test on school grounds through ATC Testing & Screening. Pecora said the district is required to provide Covid-19 testing for all students.
“At this point in time, the surge in cases is real. We’re dealing with it as best we can. We’re very grateful for our facility and staff and the administrators who have made things work,” Dr. Pecora said.
She noted that the district has seen an increase in the number of teachers that are out of work due to the virus. The district is dealing with the staff shortage “as best we can,” she said.
The four remaining winter concerts, which were rescheduled due to the influx in the number of Covid-19 cases, will now take place during the last week in January or early February, Pecora said. Additional information on the concerts will be disseminated to parents.
She asked for continued patience from families as the district works to make the transition back to the classroom for students.
A parent in the audience, who did not identify himself, asked if the district would provide remote instruction to children in the district if a Covid-19 vaccine is mandated for students by the government.
Dr. Pecora said that at this point in time, it seems unlikely that a remote learning service would be offered.