Pandemic reflections: Plainview-Old Bethpage was among 1st Long Island districts to shut down
The Plainview-Old Bethpage School District was one of the first Long Island school districts to close down as the COVID-19 pandemic started three years ago.
The district closed its doors back on March 9, 2020 — two days before the World Health Organization officially declared COVID-19 a global pandemic.
The district says the experience made it nimbler and better prepared to quickly react to whatever comes their way.
Stacy Black is a Plainview-Old Bethpage mother who remembers the uncertainly that surrounded the early days of the pandemic.
Her school district was one of Long Island's first battlegrounds when a teacher contracted the virus early on.
"We were still going into work, but our kids were going to be home. So there were a lot of moving pieces there - trying to get child care," Black recalled.
"It was very difficult to be the only district closed" said School Superintendent Mary O'Meara, who was assistant superintendent at the time.
Like many Long Islanders, O'Meara thought that the initial shutdown would last two weeks.
"We just did a crash-cleaning of all the schools, disinfecting in the hopes we could reopen," she said. But the schools would not reopen until the fall.
Even then, as many as 22% of students were 100% virtual. Elementary school kids were prioritized for in-person instruction.
Today, there is still an eye on safety.
"We're able to make decisions much more quickly, and the community trusts when we do that and they work with us," O'Meara said. "One thing we learned was having that guiding principle to get as many students back to school as often as possible."
"It was challenging, but like all parents, I think we rose to the occasion - as did our kids - and I think everything turned out OK," Black said.
O'Meara said it is great to see kids' smiling faces again.