Based on an online reopening parent survey, the Patchogue-Medford School Board will vote this week and move forward, or not, on several options.
The options were discussed on Patchogue-Medford’s Facebook page that went live on Monday, Nov. 9.
“Currently, we’re on hybrid,” said Patchogue-Medford schools superintendent Donna Jones of the entire district to the Advance. “For example, students in Cohort 1 are schooled in-person, Monday and Tuesday, then they receive three days of remote instruction. Cohort 2 students have remote Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, then in-person Thursday and Friday.”
If more in-person instruction at the elementary level was opted for, the school would utilize protective desk barriers.
“We’d prepare for the highest count,” Jones said. “It depends on square footage and number of students.”
“And the barriers can look different,” said Lori Cannetti, assistant superintendent for instruction. “We can have a triangular one for an art class. It depends on the needs of the classes.”
The district currently has approximately 7,400 students.
Deep cleaning is conducted every Wednesday. “At every school location,” Jones said. “When we say ‘deep cleaning,’ it’s communal spaces in the hallways, the floors, the bannisters, a lot more detailed cleaning.”
Jones said NYS Smart Schools bond money enabled the district to upgrade infrastructure targeting bandwidth issues. The $1 million purchase of one-on-one instruction devices that middle school students had in hand for the new school year came from district surplus money.
The goal for each high school student to work with one-on-one devices is being implemented via a current pilot program that will kick in full tilt in January.
“That was from the CARES Act [federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act],” Jones said. “Between both sources of funding, we have been able to purchase $2 million of devices.”
Jones discussed the advantages.
“It affords them to have live-streaming options,” she said. “So some students can be in school, some can be at home and they’re still getting the same lesson. We put in that request at least three years ago, but because of our urgency and the pandemic, it was approved this summer. They will be available to all high school students in January.”
Jones said the district was utilizing them in the high school now.
“We’re live-streaming pilots in Math and World Language classes,” she said.
“Also in our Career and Technological Education classes,” added Cannetti.
“The goal is to test everything out so if we go into a crisis, we can handle it,” added Jones.
Parental reactions to the district’s COVID handling have run the gamut.
“Parents are no different than any of us, feeling overwhelmed [and] also worrying about elementary child care, family members at home with health issues,” Jones said. “Some feel that our instruction isn’t enough, some feel it’s too much. There are some who want elementary students back five days a week. One thing I can say is that we are monitoring what scientists are saying, if the pandemic rates are rising, and how can we conduct our instruction in a safer way. I know our rates are less than 1/10th of a percent of infection.”