School districts across New York are patiently waiting for state guidance when it comes to reopening in the fall. A 145-page guidance was released by the New York State Department of Education late Thursday afternoon that described the reopening actions that schools must take and best practices to be considered to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus.
Districts have been asked to submit their own specific safe reopening plans. South Huntington Superintendent Dr. Dave Bennardo weighed in on what the new normal could look like.
"Coming back to school with no virus is what we want but short of that, how do we take a situation and make it as best as we can for the communities?" he said. "There are three ways this will go down—we're blessed, there's a vaccine and everyone's back, the other way is, let's pray but things go south and we're all virtual and the third is hope it's some combination."
Schools have until the end of July to submit their proposals and the governor Is expected to give districts final direction by the end of the first week in August. Districts hope a handful of important questions regarding busing and classroom size will be answered sooner than later.
"We're comfortable we can clear our buildings, we can keep our students safe," Bennardo said. "How do we get them there? Once they're there, what happens if someone comes down with it?"
Jericho School District Superintendent Hank Grishman said the challenges have never been greater. He said he wouldn't be surprised if they're back on remote learning.
"We have kids who lost grandparents, staff who lost parents, grandparents, one staff member who lost three family members in a period of two weeks," he said.
Officials also stress any decisions made for the fall will take a toll on the emotional well-being of students and staff.