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Long IslandEducation

Students return after months at home

This week's top stories

1. Many happy returns: In Garden City and other LI schools, the kids are finally back

Students were in school for the first time in almost six months this week. Shepherding hundreds of 7-, 8- and 9-year-olds in and out of school is never simple, especially in a year of pandemic, when students are trying to maintain a 6-foot distance while preventing masks from falling off their noses.

Now, there's more to keep track of, with safety guidelines in place to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. While the first day of school always brings confusion over bus routes and classroom schedules, some staffers at Stewart School, a Garden City school for grades 2-4, noted there were other issues this time. For example, too many students bunched up rather than maintained social distance after leaving buses or parents' cars, they said.

But on the positive side, students were able to see their teachers and friends, returning to a different but familiar environment. "There's laughter," said Keri Hand, the elementary school's assistant principal. "This is how it's supposed to be. It's been too quiet." 

The lingering threat of coronavirus infection has had an effect on districts Islandwide, including Garden City's: At Stewart School, parents of about 30 students have opted to keep them in remote instruction. The elementary school enrolls about 450 students.

Read the full story.

2. Oneonta freshman with COVID-19: 'I wouldn't wish this on anybody'

A SUNY Oneonta freshman from Centerport who tested positive for COVID-19 said school officials should share more of the blame for a student outbreak than her peers who partied.

  • Amanda Muro, 18, is one of about 600 Oneonta students who have tested positive for COVID-19 since the semester began Aug. 24.
  • The outbreak prompted officials at the 6,000-student school to switch last week to remote learning for the rest of the semester and send on-campus students home.

Read the full story.

3. William Floyd High senior again goes to school to protest remote learning

A senior at William Floyd High arrived at the Mastic Beach campus Tuesday and Wednesday to protest the school's remote learning schedule. On Tuesday, he left with a five-day suspension, and on Wednesday, school officials called the police.

  • The student, Maverick Stow, argues that other people’s fears about the coronavirus pandemic should not infringe upon his right to an education.
  • District officials said in a statement Wednesday that the hybrid schedule is needed for students to practice social distancing, and if Stow wants to protest, he should take his advocacy to state elected officials.

Read the full story.

4. Parents favor learning pods over kids returning to brick-and-mortar schools

On Long Island, hundreds of parents are scrambling to create or join a learning pod — also called "pandemic pods." 

  • Pods — essentially small groups of students who come together outside the school setting, aided by a parent or instructor — help parents calm their fears of COVID-19 spreading through a school and affecting their child. They also help free up a parent's time to work and allow their child to more safely interact with other children.
  • Pods can be expensive, though, with costs that range $20 to $100 an hour per child— and children whose families can't afford a pod can fall behind.

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5. Arts programs return to schools, but with new technology, new guidelines

Lynnette Carr-Hicks, the director of the Uniondale High School show choir, won't be reunited with her students this fall as all school instruction will be remote.

  • The coronavirus has cost her award-winning show choir — and marching bands, orchestras and theater groups in schools across Long Island — the chance to compete, travel and perform.
  • But educators are adapting, deepening curriculum, following safety guidelines and employing technology in ways that could transform music and the arts under COVID-19’s new realities.

Read the full story.

Resources for you

  • Visit CoolMath.com for fun online math activities, games and lessons for children in subjects ranging from algebra to pre-calculus.
  • Visit MakeMeGenius.com, a website that provides concept-based education through short cartoon movies that use day-to-day examples that approach learning in a logical way.

  • Visit TimeforKids.com, where students can engage with journalism through age-appropriate stories and instructional materials that inspire them to join the national discourse on current topics.

Your questions answered

Have questions? Send them to ednews@newsday.com. Newsday’s education reporting team will pick one to answer in this space each week. This week, we suggested the following question.

How will I know if there are positive cases at my child's school?

In the days leading up to the first day of the 2020-21 school year, at least seven Long Island school districts began reporting positive COVID-19 cases of staff and students. The districts notified families and staff by email and letters sent home. As the school year begins, more positive cases are likely to happen. On Tuesday, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced the state Health Department would launch an online dashboard to which districts will report any positive cases of staff or students on a daily basis. 

The public will be able to access the "school COVID report card" by going to schoolcovidreportcard.health.ny.gov. Districts, local health departments and the labs where tests are conducted will each send data to the state Health Department, which will update the results on the website. "This will give parents and teachers confidence. They will know on a day-to-day basis exactly what is happening," Cuomo said. Caretakers and teachers will be able to go to the website, type in their child's school or district, and find out how many positive cases it has and the percentage of on-site students who are positive, among other details. 

As for colleges, Cuomo said the state may suspend in-person classes for those that register 100 or more confirmed positive cases over a two-week period. New York has been seeing a growing number of COVID-19 cases on college campuses, including Hofstra University in Hempstead, along with SUNY Oneonta, SUNY Oswego, SUNY Fredonia, Cornell University, the University at Buffalo, and Colgate. 

SUNY's COVID-19 case tracker can be found at suny.edu/covid19-tracker/.

Round of applause

Two Long Island students — Victor Li, a senior at The Wheatley School in Old Westbury, and Max Yin, a senior at Syosset High School — were national finalists in the International Biology Olympiad Challenge 2020.

The two students were among 20 other finalists who competed in the 18th Annual USA Biolympiad (USABO) National Finals, which was conducted virtually due to the coronavirus outbreak, by the Center for Excellence in Education.

Students Islandwide were busy this summer taking educational courses that ranged from virtual book readings to career readiness presentations. In Bethpage, the high school's ACE Life Skills Program launched a fictional pizzeria to help kids practice skills they would typically use on field trips or at job sites. 

Meanwhile, third- and fourth-graders from Central Boulevard Elementary School engaged in virtual challenges — such as creating marble runs and paper helicopters — as part of a remote summer program through Nassau BOCES.

— Find the latest education news at newsday.com/long-island/education. Catherine Carrera can be reached at catherine.carrera@newsday.com or on Twitter @CattCarrera.

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