As Covid-19 cases recently began to rise across the Lynbrook School District, Lynbrook North Middle and West End Elementary schools switched to full remote learning for two weeks, starting Monday. District officials were recently notified of cases in both schools and the high school, with a total of 14 cases confirmed since the school year began.
Covid-positive students and those who have been within six feet of them for more than 10 minutes are required to quarantine, in accordance with Nassau County Department of Health guidelines. The two schools will re-main closed until Nov. 16, and the high school switched to full remote learning on Monday to conduct contact tracing. It was unclear how long it would stay closed. At press time on Tuesday, it was scheduled to reopen on Wednesday.
“We all want what is best for our students,” Superintendent Dr. Melissa Burak said in a statement. “However, the schools cannot do it alone. With positive cases of Covid-19 increasing throughout the state and nation, it is important that guidance from health officials is also followed when out in the community. We must all be mindful of our actions and the possible consequences of not following the recommended health guidelines.”
Students in kindergarten through third grade will use the SeeSaw program to locate live-streamed classes via WebEx and access their assignments. SeeSaw enables students and parents to communicate with teachers and provides organization during remote learning. Students in fourth through 12th grade will use the Schoology platform to create, manage and share academic content. WebEx meeting links will also be available via Schoology.
The platforms can be accessed through the district ClassLink, a single sign-on solution that provides all digital academic resources. The district has also launched an online reference guide to assist with questions related to the remote learning tools and management systems.
The school day schedule remains unchanged as students pivot to full remote. All current services and specials will run fully intact and occur at their typical times in the cycle. Teachers are engaging with their classes in various formats during their assigned times — whole group, small group, individual conferencing and independent work.
“We want our schools to be the example of what can be done during a pandemic,” LHS Principal Joseph Rainis said in a weekly bulletin. “When we call the Department of Health because we have a positive case of Covid, it means that decisions will be made that are out of our control. We control whether we remain open or closed. Let’s stay open LHS. Please practice distancing, wear a mask and limit the potential to exposure.”
The district will continue to offer students free meals through next June, as per the Families First Coronavirus Response Act. It will operate from two after-school serving sites at North and South middle schools from 3 to 3:30 p.m. daily.
Burak said that the schools would continue to strictly enforce safety protocols, including mask-wearing and social distancing, when students return to school.
“The district is working diligently to ensure students and staff enter a safe environment every day they are on campus,” Burak said. “We are constantly reviewing our processes to improve instruction and provide support for our students, whether they are learning in-person or remotely.”
District officials recently announced that remote-only students can no longer switch to in-person instruction. The decision was made after an analysis of the school buildings revealed a lack of space needed to socially distance. Many parents expressed concerns, and have asked that their children be allowed to return to school.
At the Oct. 14 Board of Education meeting, Gerard Beleckas, the assistant superintendent for curriculum, said the district was establishing a task force to reconsider district facilities, health and safety protocols and instructional models. The committee will work to bring all students back for in-person instruction and to ensure student safety after the two-week closure. The board will meet on Nov. 10 and 18 to discuss protocol updates.
“I’m very hopeful for the future of this school year,” board President William Belmont said. “But whether Lynbrook schools close down or not for the year rests solely in the hands of the students and families in this community. If people aren’t social distancing or wearing masks and the numbers spike, the Department of Health will be forced to close down the school.”