NY schools reach deadline for parent/teacher meetings
Friday marked the last day for New York school districts to have three to five public meetings with parents and teachers regarding back-to-school safety plans.
This comes one week after Gov. Andrew Cuomo's deadline for schools to have submitted their reopening plans. He says 107 school districts did not submit their plans on time, a quarter of which were located on Long Island.
Those schools have since submitted them and posted details on their websites along with plans for remote learning, testing and tracing. Also required by Friday, all schools had to have public sessions with parents and teachers to go over them.
Parents and grandparents say these meetings are making them feel more confident in unchartered territory.
"I think it's important to have discussions, certainly for parents that really don't know and understand what's going on. They have a lot of anxieties," says Leslie Doucet, of Deer Park.
Cuomo made these public meetings a requirement for schools to reopen because parents and teachers are the ones that will be participating in remote learning and can determine if it's both doable and safe for their families. Parents and teachers have been going over what to expect the first days back and clearing up any confusion.
"How are they going to keep the masks on the kids? Because kids are always touching each other and, you know, they want to be around each other," asked Corinne Castillo, of North Babylon. "And lunchtime. What will they do to keep everyone -- not just the first few weeks, but long term -- mindful to keep distance, keep sanitary?"
Melville's Suiz Guarriello says her grandson will be going to a small, private kindergarten this year, and not to her school district's larger classroom. Sheena Basu, of Old Bethpage, read her district's plans and has decided to keep her daughter in day care instead of kindergarten.
"She's registered to go, but for us it makes more sense to keep her in day care because the numbers are smaller," says Basu. "We know what's going on and it's safe."
But other parents say they're glad the kids are going back and are feeling more confident. Some also say distance learning wasn't working well.
"It's not perfect but... I feel as though our district went above and beyond," says Carissa Kretschmer, of Huntington. "I think they covered all of the territories as much as we can."
Nassau BOCES Director Robert Dillon says schools have been working nonstop with constantly changing rules to keep kids and their families safe. But some teachers say while they appreciate the hard work, they still have some reservations.
"I'd like to say that it all is going to work perfectly, but we don't know, we've never done this before," says Ron Verderber, of the Jericho Teachers Association.
Parents also say the sessions have been helpful in that they are able to get questions they still have answered after viewing plans and clear up any confusion, as well as share ideas for what other districts are doing.