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Lynbrook, East Rockaway school officials focus on fall reopening plans

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Though the Lynbrook and East Rockaway school districts only recently began summer recess, school officials are already looking ahead to the return of school in the fall.

On June 30, the Lynbrook Board of Education gathered virtually for a live-streamed work session. Board President William Belmont spoke about the work that administrators, staff members and parents have been doing to prepare for the schools’ possible reopening. The district must wait for guidance from Gov. Andrew Cuomo before deciding how to proceed in September.

Superintendent Dr. Melissa Burak said that a planning committee has been meeting with subcommittees and discussing a return to school. She noted that in-person classes are not contingent on there being a vaccine for the coronavirus, but officials would ensure that an in-person return adhered to safety protocols.

“We want our students to be back in school in a safe environment,” Burak said. “That’s what is important to us.”

She added that school officials expected to receive guidance from Cuomo around July 14, after which the planning committee would meet to develop a reopening plan.

As of Monday, the track and fields at the schools were again open to the community. People who use the facilities are encouraged to maintain six feet of social distance and wear masks around others. Should coronavirus cases spike, the track and fields may be closed again. School board trustees said they would continue to update the community on the planning committee’s meetings and reopening plans at each virtual board meeting.

Similarly, East Rockaway school officials have established committees to plan re-entry to schools. They include social and emotional health, food service, health and safety and special education committees. Additionally, administrators created the East Rockaway Wellness and Support Google Classroom to organize and share emotional wellness-related information, resources and activities.

Officials are calling it a “Return to Learn Re-entry Plan. “This information is available on the district’s website,” Superintendent Lisa Ruiz said, “but we continue to wait for guidance from [the State Education Department] and Governor Cuomo on just what guidelines will be in place so that we can finalize our plans and move forward.”

Students, teachers, administrators and parents adapted to remote learning over the course of more than three months as the 2019-20 school year wound down, and East Rockaway High School Principal Richard Schaffer sent a letter to the community last month, thanking residents for adjusting well to a new normal.

“I want to begin by commending our students for continuing to be flexible, resilient and successful during our transition from traditional classroom to remote instruction,” Schaffer wrote. “I would also like to thank our parents and family members that have supported our students in completing assignments and helping them keep track of virtual class sessions. This is new for all of us, and our school and district are in a good place as we approach the end of the school year.”

The Lynbrook school board will host its next virtual meeting on Aug. 12, while East Rockaway’s in scheduled for Aug. 13.