HICKSVILLE, NY — Hicksville Public Schools has released its reopening plan for the fall amid the coronavirus pandemic, but officials stressed it's a "living document" that can be changed if needed.
At a special Board of Education meeting Thursday, board members approved a resolution to accept the district's reopening plan, which was introduced at a joint public meeting of the board and the district's reopening task force Monday.
Marianne Litzman, the superintendent, said the district will welcome back elementary schoolers for in-person instruction, but noted it will be "in a very different way" due to social distancing requirements. Classrooms will hold a limited number of students, and other spaces in elementary buildings will be used for instruction.
Secondary students will return through a hybrid model that also features in-person instruction since not all secondary students will be able to return to school buildings due to limited space and social distancing requirements.
Notably, the district will be prepared to move all students to a fully remote learning model should schools have to close again.
Hicksville schools are following all guidance from the federal Center of Disease Control and Prevention, as well as guidelines from the Department of Health. This includes protocols for sanitizing and disinfecting, personal protective equipment, temperature checks, completion of school health app, face-covering requirements, social distancing requirements, contact tracing and signage.
"This is a living document," Litzman said in a news release. "As more information becomes available and circumstances change, the plan can be adjusted to suit the specific needs of our school community. That we provide the highest level of instruction and safety within the restrictions of the COVID-19 pandemic is critically important to us."
Click here to see the full plan. The district encouraged all residents to review the plan to understand how schools will look and operate.
The district said the recommended size of groups and cohorts of students should be determined by the number of students who can be in a classroom while maintaining at least 6 feet from others. Currently, about 11 to 15 students can be assigned to classrooms.
Elementary schools can use other spaces such as all-purpose rooms and gymnasiums for instruction.
At the secondary level, students will attend school according to a hybrid/blended learning model, meaning students will be divided into cohorts and physically attend school only on certain days. On other days, they'll learn remotely.
Students will also have designated areas for drop-off and pick-up, and large group contact will be avoided as much as possible.
In-school movement will be reduced by keeping students in their classrooms, including eating lunch at their desks at the elementary level. At the secondary level, students will socially distance while eating in cafeterias, and may have to eat in classrooms due to space restrictions.
Physical education and music classes will be held outside and student belongings will be kept separately by their desks. Locker assignments at the secondary level will be minimized. Playgrounds will be available for use.
At the beginning of each school day, staff, students and parents will have to answer a questionnaire to see if they're experiencing symptoms. The questions must be answered before students board the bus. Furthermore, temperatures will be taken for everyone entering district buildings each day, though the procedure may be discontinued once the district's screening app is widely used. Anyone with a fever of 100 degrees will not be allowed in the building.
Should someone test positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus, schools may have to close for up to two days for cleaning and disinfection. Students who test positive can only return to school 10 days after the start of symptoms. They must also have three days with no fever or symptoms. A health care provider must also give them a note allowing them to return to school.
Classrooms, health offices, bathrooms, admin offices, cafeterias stairwells and other public spaces will be disinfected nightly. Bathrooms will be sanitized hourly, or as needed, and frequently touched surfaces will be cleaned throughout the day.
Classroom doors and windows will be kept open to improve ventilation, weather permitting. Each building will be equipped with fillable water bottle stations too.
New York school district plans are merely proposals at this stage. State officials have the final say on whether schools will reopen in the fall.
What do you think about the plan? Tell us in the comments and vote in our survey!