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Viscardi students hope to return full time to classes and Sunny the Golden Lab

This week's top stories

1. School for disabled children hopes for full return in fall

On remote learning days, students at the Henry Viscardi School missed their friends, teachers and Sunny, the specially trained yellow Labrador retriever who greeted them each morning and joined them in class.

That was last school year.

The school in Albertson for severely disabled children started its 2021-22 term this month with a return to five days of in-person instruction, along with a remote option. Educators are planning — if the state approves — for nearly all the K-12 students to be on-site this fall and for them to resume their after-school activities.

Read the full story.

2. Smithtown administrator stepping down

A Smithtown Central School District administrator who helped guide the district’s diversity and equity work will leave for a job at an education foundation.

  • Jennifer Bradshaw, the district’s assistant superintendent for instruction and administration, will take a job as an international curriculum consultant in the World Leading Schools Association Foundation network.
  • Bradshaw had been criticized by some district parents and others who conflated the district’s equity work with critical race theory, or CRT, a body of academic thought broadly defined by its focus on themes of racial exploitation.

Read the full story.

3. Adelphi requires student vaccinations

Adelphi University officials have announced they will require all students to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 before returning to the Garden City-based campus for the fall semester.

  • A vaccine incentive program had been launched on May 10 to encourage students, staff and faculty to get vaccinated, according to the post, but since then only 26% of students have uploaded proof of full vaccination.
  • In May, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced that all students returning to in-person learning at SUNY and CUNY schools statewide would have to be fully vaccinated. Hofstra University officials have also said the school would require full vaccination beginning in September.

Read the full story.

4. SCCC wins grant to help small businesses

Suffolk County Community College has won a $500,000 grant to help small businesses that are owned by members of minority groups to recover from the pandemic, officials said.

  • The college’s Entrepreneurial Assistance Center is among 50 groups nationwide to share in $25 million from the banking giant Citigroup.
  • Black-owned businesses have closed at more than twice the rate of white-owned businesses in the past year, according to the National Bureau of Economic Research in Cambridge, Massachusetts, which is best known for tracking economic expansions and recessions.

Read the full story.

5. New school mask questions after shift in CDC guidance

Long Island school officials, teachers and parents offered mixed opinions after the CDC — citing new information about the infectious power of the delta variant to spread among vaccinated people — recommended indoor masks for all teachers, staff and students, regardless of their vaccination status.

  • The wearing of masks in school has been a divisive policy, to the point where some Long Island parents have organized protests against it.
  • The CDC guidance represents a recommendation, and the final mask policy will depend on the mandates of the governor and state Department of Health.

Resources for you

  • The State Education Department offers translated materials to support students’ & families’ understanding of the NYS Diploma Requirements. The following languages are available: Arabic, Bengali, Chinese (Simplified), French, Haitian Creole, Korean, Russian, Spanish, Urdu & Uzbek.
  • Sesame Street offers free online math lessons.
  • As college tours are underway for many families this summer, here are some tips from the U.S. Department of Education on how students can select the right school.

Round of applause

Before an audience of legislators, scientists and parents at the Sunken Meadow State Park, 17-year-old Nicole Olekanma presented her science research project to develop a heart-rate sensor for mussels, an inexpensive device she is developing with a team of seven other Brentwood High School student researchers that will help scientists preserve the health of Long Island salt marshes and others like it nationwide.

"Mussels contribute a lot to the salt marshes," she told Newsday. "By determining the health of the mussels, it’s a great way to determine the health of the salt marshes in general."

Olekanma was one of 18 students who showcased their science research projects as part of a new partnership between Brentwood High School, Stony Brook University and the BIOBUS, a traveling mobile laboratory that provides science research opportunities to students from communities traditionally underrepresented in the STEM — science, technology, engineering, mathematics — field. The collaboration, which focuses on marsh restoration research, is the first of its kind.

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.

What efforts are being made locally to boost vaccinations among children ages 12 and up?

Nassau County is currently hosting COVID-19 "Student Vaccination Days" aimed at children ages 12 and older, an effort to boost immunity among that population in time for the start of the new school year, County Executive Laura Curran said.

The effort runs through July 31, she said. Michael Dowling, Northwell Health president and CEO, said clinics will be available at Kennedy Memorial Park in Hempstead.

According to Curran spokesman Jordan Carmon, 43.8% of Nassau residents ages 12 to 15 are vaccinated, compared to a statewide average of 39%; 66.9% of those ages 16 to 25 are vaccinated, while statewide it’s 55.4%.

The following dates and times are scheduled:

7/29-Thursday 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.

7/30-Friday 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.

7/31-Saturday 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Appointments can be made online here. Walk-ins will be accepted. Kennedy Park is at 335 Greenwich St., Hempstead, NY 11550.

In addition, local schools have been hosting vaccine clinics. The Hampton Bays School District posted on its website that on Wednesday, Aug. 4, Stony Brook Children’s Hospital will host a COVID-19 Vaccine Event at Hampton Bays Middle School from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. This is a Pfizer vaccine and is authorized for individuals 12 and older. The second shot will be administered at the same time on Wednesday, Aug. 25, also at Hampton Bays Middle School. Classes begin Thursday, Sept. 9, and those who participate in this event will be considered fully vaccinated by the start of school.

Appointments can be made here.

— Find the latest education news at newsday.com/long-island/education. Joie Tyrrell can be reached at joie.tyrrell@newsday.com or on Twitter @JoieTyrrell.

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