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Shelter Island Town Hall meeting updates public on measures to battle the virus

At a virtual Town Board meeting Tuesday — the public excluded but live on the internet and broadcast later on channel 22 — Supervisor Gerry Siller had some encouraging news on the town’s plans to combat the coronavirus on Shelter Island.

Dr. Peter Kelt plans to reopen his practice at the Medical Center on the afternoon of Monday, March 23. The Medical Center should be fully staffed and up and running by April 15, the supervisor said

In addition, a physician’s assistant is in the process of making plans to be available for house calls on the Island, Mr. Siller reported.

The town’s website gave this information: “Medical records can be obtained by calling Greenport Primary Care, an NYU/Winthrop facility @ 631-477-0070. If needed, you could also call this number to set up an appointment with Greenport Primary Care. If you have a medical emergency, call 911 or go to the nearest Emergency Room.”

At the meeting, Mr. Siller noted that all town departments are open, but only via phone or email. The supervisor is the only member of the Town Board at Town Hall. The Town Clerk’s office is staffed by one official.

Police Chief Jim Read, the emergency  management coordinator for the town, said there have been no reported cases of the coronavirus on Shelter Island.

“This is a fluid situation,” the chief said, adding that statistics are continually updated.

He urged all residents to apply to get “Code Red” for emergency updates. The town is equipped to get information out rapidly to all residents through the Code Red system, but they must register to get important updates.

This is a web-based emergency notification service run by a Florida-based company, Emergency Communications Network.

The free service contacts residents with important information and directions through multiple platforms, including voicemail, texts, email, social media and a mobile alert app. Contact the town for further information.

Other information at the meeting included:

• Chief Read said the best way to receive other information is to call Suffolk County’s non-emergency service at 311.

• Restaurants are open for phone orders and take-out with roadside service.

• The IGA is open and getting daily deliveries, but Chief Read cautioned against hoarding.

• The pharmacy is open and stocked, but out of hand sanitizers.

• There is no testing available for the virus, with mobile units still not in the picture. Chief Read suggested if you have symptoms, to call your physician.

• Work is being done to ensure safe procedures at the Recycling Center for residents and employees.

• The food pantry at the Presbyterian Church has expanded hours, is stocked, but residents should use caution and not hoard.

• Some local businesses are open and residents are advised to “buy local.”


Shelter Island School Superintendent Brian Doelger, Ed.D. said the health crisis has left him and the school’s staff feeling as if “days have been months.”

School is closed and has been since Friday, and will remains so for at least two weeks. Volunteers are delivering breakfast and lunch to some 70 students at their homes who are on the free or reduced meal program, which is usually provided at the school each weekday.

Any student not in the free or reduced lunch program, but in need of meals, is advised to call the school to arrange to be added to the home delivery service.

The school’s staff has had video meetings to plan the “distance learning” program that will provide assignments and materials to students during the school shutdown. The school will grant students credit for educational days, even though students can’t enter the building.

Plans called for materials to be distributed as of Wednesday, and teachers will be contacting students to assist with assignments and respond to questions.

Mr. Doelger asked that students not call their teachers, but wait until the teachers call them.

Elementary students through middle school grade 8 were to receive iPads or Chromebooks, and those in high school who need them should call the school to be added to the list.

The Board of Education has authorized Mr. Doelger to spend what’s necessary to keep the education process moving forward and he’s ordered extra Chromebooks to meet student needs.

Parents who need devices can also request Chromebooks, Mr. Doelger said, and  information technology specialist Walter Brigham has arranged internet service for those who don’t have it.

School psychologist Danielle Spears and social worker Michele Albano have been contacting students to address emotional needs. Parents are being advised not to set play dates or plan other group activities with other children.

With constantly changing circumstances, Mr. Doelger said he will continue to provide updates to meet situations as they develop.

While many parents are working from home, for those who must go to work, there isn’t yet a program for childcare, but that is being explored.

There will be another informational meeting this Friday, March 20, at 1 p.m.  and one Tuesday, March 24 at 1 p.m. Again, they will be live-streamed and broadcast on public access TV.