Doelger outlines specifics of school reopening plan

The Shelter Island School District has submitted to the state Education Department, as required, its plans for reopening school this fall.

Superintendent Brian Doelger, Ed.D., said the district had to draw up three plans: one for full in-person attendance, one for all distance learning, and a hybrid of the two, and has submitted them to the state. Gov. Andrew Cuomo has said he will make a decision on reopening this region this week.

At the Tuesday Town Board work session, Mr. Doelger said that if the in-person teaching option is approved, the  school’s first priority is the emotional and physical safety of the students. Only essential people will be allowed in the building, and all students will have their temperatures taken when entering the school. Everyone in the building will be required to wear masks.

The building will be deep-cleaned every night, and some spots, such as the bathrooms, will be cleaned throughout the day. Wash stations have been installed in the building, and the district has purchased “hospital-grade air filters for each classroom,” Mr. Doelger said. For the gym and auditorium, a state-of-the-art HVAC system has been ordered, he added.

Hallways have been marked for students to move around the school safely.

Other innovative ideas are being put in place, such as exchanging tables in the younger grades where children sit together with desks for distancing, and also so they can be taken outside for lessons to be conducted in the open air in good weather.

If a student, faculty member or staff tests positive for COVID-19, the school district will immediately contact the Suffolk County Department of Health Services and the building will be closed. It will only be re-opened after the Health Department has given the green light, Mr. Doelger said.

If the governor approves the hybrid plan — part distant learning and part in-person learning — classes will be broken up so students can attend school certain days and be at home on other days.

Food deliveries to students’ homes, which started when school closed in March, and have continued this summer, will be ongoing during the school year, Mr. Doelger said.

The New York Times last week posted projections of the number of infected people who might be expected to arrive at school during the first week, based on research at the University of Texas, for selected counties around the country. For Suffolk County, no cases were projected for schools with 100 people or less; schools with up to 500 could expect one case. Shelter Island School’s enrollment is typically around 200.

Mr. Doelger said that there have been eight new registrations, and 36 families have expressed interest in registering children in the school. He asked that they make their decisions by Aug. 17.