On Monday, July 13, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that school districts in New York can follow plans to reopen for in-person instruction in September if COVID-19 infection rates stay at 5% or lower in a given region.
Determinations will be made by region about opening and closing schools as the COVID-19 pandemic continues. If a region is in Phase IV and has a daily infection rate of 5% or lower over a 14-day average, schools in that region could hold in-person instruction. If daily infection rates exceed 9% over a seven day average, however, schools in that region would not reopen. Similarly, should a region see such an average after reopening, schools in that region would also be directed to close.
While districts have been asked to prioritize efforts to return students to in-person instruction, the district is also planning for remote learning as well as for a hybrid model that combines in-person instruction and remote learning.
In the Northport-East Northport UFSD, our primary commitment is to the students and families we serve. Our priority must be keeping them safe. When the 2020-2021 school year begins, on-campus school will look much different than previous years due to COVID-19 and the health and safety measures that continue to evolve. This School Re-entry Plan will define clear guidance for the reopening of our nine (9) schools and align with the regulations developed by the NYS Department of Health and the NYS Education Department.
The areas outlined in this plan represent the myriad considerations that the Northport-East Northport UFSD will address to reopen schools safely and to sustain our safe operation. It is important to note that our plan retains a strong focus on academic instruction to enhance student performance and address learning loss. An emphasis on the social-emotional needs of our students is a priority as well and therefore, we have addressed this within our plan.
This plan includes procedures that will be followed in the following schools:
To be clear, the health and safety of our students, our staff, and their families is our top priority. We have developed a plan that intends to insure that students and employees feel comfortable and safe returning to school campuses. Our reopening plan incorporates recommendations and guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) and the New York State Education Department (NYSED).
It is possible that we may need to alternate between in-person and remote learning throughout the year due to recommendations and guidance from our partnering agencies, and stay-at-home orders from the Governor. The level of infection, the spread of the virus and response to the disease in our community will be at the forefront of decision making as we move to open our schools.
Shannon Dantuono, Director of Student Support Services will serve as the District’s COVID-19 Coordinator. She will serve as a central contact for schools and stakeholders, families, staff and other school community members and will ensure the district is in compliance and following the best practices per state and federal guidelines. She will also work with building level and District level leadership daily to ensure that compliance.
Of course, as with every plan being developed throughout New York State, this document is fluid and will change as necessary based on guidance from the state, CDC, and NYSED and in consideration of our families and our staff. We strongly believe the services described throughout this plan are in the best interest of our students, families, staff, and community.
The development of this plan was directed by and grounded in the following guiding principles:
Health & Safety
Adherence to state-level guidelines and safeguarding of the health and safety (physical & social-emotional) of our students, faculty and staff.
Maximization of instructional opportunities for all students, and prioritization of in-person instruction to our youngest learners and those who need additional assistance to the extent possible.
Maintenance of strong two-way communication with school community partners.
Planning with flexibility in mind; the district will likely need to adjust due to changing conditions associated with COVID-19.