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Elmont, Franklin Square superintendents mull return to school


Local school superintendents are continuing to ponder whether to allow students back into the buildings in September, as they await further instructions from state officials.

Kenneth Rosner, the incoming superintendent for the Elmont School District, for example, sent a letter to residents on July 2 notifying them that he is creating a “Superintendent’s Task Force” with six school-level subcommittees “to examine and develop contingency plans for re-opening schools.”

The task force would consider the health and safety of the students and staff; ways to maximize in-school instruction; and options for distance and blended-learning models “to provide an interactive learning experience,” he wrote, while ensuring that the community is well-informed about the process.

“This is a complicated undertaking,with many moving parts,” Rosner said. “The district is using various guidance documents from the federal, state and local levels that will assist us in our thinking and planning, as the goal must be to open safely for children and staff members.”

Franklin Square Superintendent Jared Bloom also said he has been discussing re-entry scenarios with teachers, community members, bus drivers and custodial staff; and Sewanhaka Central High School District Superintendent James Grossane said at a Board of Education meeting on July 7 that he would like to open school, but is still waiting for guidance from state officials.

The State Department of Health is expected to send New York’s 700 school districts instructions for reopening on July 13, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced at his news conference on Wednesday, and each district would have until the end of the month to submit its plans for the 2020 - 21 school year to the state. State officials would then approve or deny the plans in the first week of August.

“We will open the schools if it is safe to open the schools,” Cuomo said, noting that the facts of the coronavirus pandemic are changing daily.

“I am not going to ask anyone to put their children in a position I would not put my children in,” he said.

Statewide, the infection rate remains around 1 percent — down from nearly 17 percent on Long Island and more than 20 percent in New York City during the height of the pandemic in April, Cuomo said, adding that the state conducted 57,585 tests on Tuesday, with 692 positive results.

Additionally, he said, there were 11 deaths on Tuesday, with 841 hospitalizations and 97 people on ventilators — the first time that figure has been below 100 since March 16.

“Relative to where we were,” Cuomo said, “that’s very good news.”

Those figures come as Long Island entered Phase Four of the reopening process, which allows for: 

Low-risk indoor entertainment includes museums, historical sites and aquariums, and examples of low-risk outdoor entertainment include zoos, botanical gardens and nature parks.

Over the weekend, the governor praised New Yorkers for their vigilance and resilience to get to this point, but said people must continue to wear masks and maintain social distancing in public spaces.