With hundreds of cases of the coronavirus in public schools across the North Shore over the past month, the Great Neck School District announced last week that its teaching for quarantined high school students will be changed.
District Superintendent Teresa Prendergast, in a letter to the community last week, said an increased number of students in quarantine and limited staff availability meant that the district was not able to provide “adequate home schooling” to students in grades 6 to 12. This form of education is offered directly to the student’s home.
Prendergast said the district has temporarily adopted a practice that requires quarantined high school students to use distance learning to virtually attend their classes and will complete any tests or assessments once they return to school. The temporary measure, she said, will continue until January, with the district reassessing the need to continue the practice every week, based on quarantine rates.
Primary students from kindergarten to fifth grade will be able to continue to receive home schooling, she said.
“The health of our school community – and our district’s ability to maintain in-person operations throughout this pandemic – is a shared responsibility,” said Prendergast. “We continue to rely on everyone’s good judgment as we head into the holiday recess. Please maintain healthy habits, watch for symptoms of COVID-19, and stay home when you are not feeling well. “
More than 150 confirmed cases of the virus among students, staff and teachers in the Great Neck School District were reported from December 20 to 23, according to the district’s website. Since the start of the school year, according to figures from the state’s health ministry, more than 160 students in the district have tested positive for the virus.
“We are monitoring the situation closely and are working with the Nassau County Department of Health, which still recommends keeping schools open,” Prendergast said. “Our district’s pandemic protocols remain effective in preventing the spread within our schools. We are committed to maintaining in-person teaching.
A wave of new cases in the Sewanhaka Central High School District has forced Floral Park Memorial High School and H. Frank Carey High School to remotely schedule their last two days of classes before the holidays.
According to the district’s confirmed COVID-19 case report for the school year, during the week of December 13, Floral Park Memorial High School had 41 students and 11 teachers who contracted the virus. For the H. Frank Carey School, 20 students and nine faculty members reported new cases.
Superintendent James Grossane said at last week’s Education Council meeting that too many staff had COVID-19 or were waiting for the results to have an in-person learning before the holidays.
“This is due to the high number of teachers and staff in quarantine for being positive, symptomatic and awaiting PCR results or determined to be in close contact with someone with COVID-19,” said Grossane.
Among students, the overwhelming majority of cases are contracted off district grounds, he said.
“The percentage of students in quarantine for positivity or in close contact is 3.5% across the district,” Grossane said. “This equates to 291 students for the five buildings out of 8,400 students present. Contract research continues to tell us that 90% or more of cases contract the virus at events outside of school. ”
The superintendent said health is the number one priority and he hopes to return to in-person learning for both schools after the holidays.
As of Wednesday, more than 370 students in Sewanhaka central school district had tested positive for the virus since September, according to statistics from the state health ministry. Almost 90 teachers and 30 staff members have also tested positive. The district leads the 11 school districts in the North Shore for the total number of positive cases for students, teachers and staff.
A total of 296 confirmed cases of students in the Port Washington School District have been reported to the state since September. In addition, 53 teachers and eight staff members have tested positive since the start of the school year on Wednesday.
At a Dec. 7 meeting at the Port Washington Board of Education, parents in the district urged administrators to write a letter to Governor Kathy Hochul not to create a vaccination mandate for school-aged children. After citing their lack of expertise on the virus, administrators said they would meet with state lawmakers on the matter instead of the letter.
“I would like us to follow this direction that we have always followed and follow the recommendations of the Department of Health to navigate this situation in this matter,” said vice-chairman of the board of directors Julie Epstein during the meeting. “I don’t think it’s our responsibility right now, or really that we have enough information honestly, to take a proactive decision and write a letter about a warrant. I’m not saying we can’t see it again in the future.
Although no vaccination warrant has been issued by the state at the public school level, Hofstra University recently announced that the COVID-19 booster will be required for all students, staff and teachers.
University president Susan Poser said students and staff must receive their booster injection within seven days of being eligible, starting with those first eligible on or before January 18. Eligible people must upload proof of the injection by January 18.
Poser said more information on how to submit proof of the booster dose will be sent in a campus-wide email by Jan.5.
People who have received the full Moderna or Pfizer vaccination series are eligible to receive the booster six months after the date of their second dose of the vaccine, while people who have received the single dose of the Janssen / Johnson & Johnson vaccine are eligible. for the vaccine. booster two months after being inoculated.
Other school districts that had more than 100 confirmed cases of students since the start of the school year on Wednesday included Manhasset (185), Herricks (170), Mineola (157), Roslyn (138), North Shore Central School District ( 120) and Parc Floral-Bellerose (109). A total of 79 students in the East Williston School District and 65 in the New Hyde Park-Garden City Park School District had also tested positive since the start of the school year on Wednesday, statistics showed.
Manhasset Acting Superintendent Gaurav Passi said the district will also continue to work with the county health ministry and implored the community to remain vigilant and proactive with federal and state health guidelines to combat the spread of the disease. virus during a board meeting on December 16. Education meeting.
“This is an important reminder that we must always be vigilant about adhering to Ministry of Health protocols to mitigate the spread of COVID-19,” Passi said.
Last week, Hochul said school districts across the state would remain open after hearing concerns from the public about returning students to a strictly virtual method.
“We think it is extremely important that our children do not find themselves in the same situation they were for so many months, when they were so displaced from their normal environment, they did not receive a quality education. , despite the best efforts of these amazing teachers and parents who have struggled alongside their children every day, just to face the circumstances we faced the last time, ”Hochul said.
Hochul described his plan to tackle the “winter surge,” which includes the state’s acquisition of 10 million additional home test kits and two million tests for schools statewide.