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After one-week extension, eight LI school districts have until Friday to submit reopening plans, state says

Lindenhurst schools were among those on Long Island

Lindenhurst schools were among those on Long Island that were granted an extension.  Credit: Barry Sloan

Several Long Island districts say they're on track to submit their reopening plans by Friday to the state Education Department after being given a one-week extension. 

As of Thursday afternoon, eight districts across Nassau and Suffolk still had not posted detailed reopening plans on their websites, leaving about 12,000 students wondering what their districts are planning for the fall, according to data from the state Education Department.

Across the state, about 85 school districts, BOCES and charter schools — including four districts in Nassau and 13 in Suffolk — were granted a one-week extension for their reopening plan submissions to the state. The plans were due July 31.

The Long Island districts that have not publicly provided reopening plans are Greenport, Hauppauge, Lawrence, Lindenhurst, Quogue, Sagaponack, Wainscott and Western Suffolk BOCES.

After being granted the extension, the Copiague, Deer Park, Floral Park-Bellerose, Levittown, North Babylon, Northport-East Northport, Roslyn, South Huntington and Wyandanch districts have submitted their plans and posted details on their websites.

Some districts said they were waiting for Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo to make his decision on whether he will permit schools to open for in-person instruction this fall. The decision is expected before the week ends.

During a Thursday telephone conference call with reporters, Cuomo said he would make his decision on a regional basis.

"I can't sit here and say here today [that] in three weeks, when the schools are opening, you are not going to see an increased spread, right? There’s an uncertainty," Cuomo said. 

Cuomo also noted the "spectrum of opinion" from parents and teachers, with some against sending their children or going back to school and others pushing for it.

Lawrence Superintendent Ann Pedersen was among those holding off on publishing plans in advance of Cuomo's decision, which she expected would be Friday.

"We await [the] governor’s orders on reopening, but our current thinking is the full in-person model does not allow all children and staff to keep appropriate social distancing. Complete plan details will be released Friday," Pedersen said in a note to the school community. The Lawrence school district has around 2,500 students.

Education department officials said they expected all districts to meet the extension deadline. Officials did not say if there would be a penalty for districts that did not submit plans by Friday.

"In order to properly ensure the health and safety of our students and staff and to successfully meet the state requirements outlined, the district has filed for an extension on the original July 31 deadline," said Daniel Giordano, superintendent of Lindenhurst. Lindenhurst has about 5,600 students. 

The Western Suffolk BOCES reopening plan will be posted on its website by the close of business Friday, said Michael Flynn, chief executive officer of Western BOCES.

"Due to the diversity of the student population we serve, particularly with the complexity of some student disabilities, we believed it was in the best interest of our students and staff to take the time afforded us through the extension to ensure that our plan was as well-thought-out and as well-developed as possible," Flynn said.

Floral Park-Bellerose, a district of about 1,400 students, and Copiague, a district of about 5,000 students, each posted their plans Thursday.

“The Floral Park-Bellerose Union Free School District requested an extension to ensure that all items in our reopening plan are in accordance with the latest safety guidelines put forth by the New York State Department of Health," Floral Park Superintendent Kathleen Sottile said. 

On the East End, the Sagaponack and Wainscott school districts, which each enroll under 35 students, said their plans had either been submitted or were on track to be submitted.

"After extensive input and discussion by the board, we have a plan set to be filed on time," said David Eagan, president of the Wainscott Board of Trustees. "Our plan is basically to open for in-person with social distancing measures and new safety protocols. Being such a small-scale district allows us to open while implementing the new guidelines."

 Meanwhile, some districts that recently posted their plans, such as Levittown and Deer Park, have asked parents to inform the district by Monday if they plan on opting for a full distance learning model for their children.

"The district is requesting this information so that we can best place and instruct students based on their educational wants and needs," Levittown Superintendent Tonie McDonald said. "Tabulating this data allows us to safely organize social distanced classrooms and provide the resources necessary for those engaged in remote learning."

Granted extensions

Here's a list of the 17 Long Island school districts granted an extension. Those districts marked with (*) have posted their plans ahead of the Friday deadline.

Nassau County:

*Floral Park-Bellerose

Lawrence

*Levittown

*Roslyn

Suffolk County:

*Copiague

*Deer Park

Greenport

Hauppauge

Lindenhurst

*North Babylon

*Northport-East Northport

Quogue

Sagaponack

*South Huntington

Wainscott

*Wyandanch

Western Suffolk BOCES

SOURCE: New York State Education Department

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