Despite early concerns that Shelter Island School might see a spike in COVID-19 cases, the district began its second week of the winter period without any additional cases, Superintendent Brian Doelger, Ed.,D., told the Board of Education Monday night.
The district’s website provides ongoing updates relating to the pandemic and school officials also have and will continue to notify families directly any time a student or staff member tests positive.
During the first week after the holiday break, all educational programs were handled by distance learning as a precaution, Mr. Doelger said. But on Monday, students in pre-kindergarten through grade 12 returned to the building and resumed regular classes without missing a beat, he said.
He described students as “very resilient,” and outlined ongoing efforts to keep the building clean and avoid in-school infections.
“It’s one of the safest places for students to be,” Mr. Doelger said.
Additional hand washing stalls have been placed around the building; high-efficiency particulate air filters, which the superintendent described as “one of the best systems out there,” provide an added measure of safety; and students and staff are wearing masks as required.
Beginning next Tuesday and again the following Monday, School Nurse Mary Kanarvogel will be conducting rapid tests of students and staff.
Mr. Doelger had previously received permission from many parents to test their children from time to time. But he’s again sending permission slips to the parents whose children are slated for the rapid tests beginning next week.
Staff members are beginning to be vaccinated. A staff member heard about the availability of vaccinations at Jones Beach and informed Mr. Doelger, while arranging for several to take advantage of setting up appointments there.
The vaccinations represent “a lot of hope for all of us,” Mr. Doelger said.
Despite having to deal every day with matters related to keeping students and staff safe from COVID-19, district officials have still been able to update the district’s Comprehensive Improvement Plan aimed at improving the educational experiences for all students.
The district’s 2020-21 priorities are to:
• Increase the number of students, especially special education students, taking state assessment tests
• Modify and enhance the Academic Intervention Services process to strengthen the program
•Enhance the academic monitoring program by replacing “Aimsweb Plus” with “i-Ready” to foster student growth in math
• Target professional development to address instructional practices
• Create an effective system of social and emotional learning
Todd Gulluscio, director of athletics, physical education, health, wellness and personnel, told the Board of Education that low and moderate risk sports are underway, but high risk sports are not on the horizon at the moment. In the interests of caution, no spectators are allowed at meets for winter track where between 14 and 16 students are participating.
To try to provide alternatives for students in such sports as basketball and other contact sports, Mr. Gulluscio is working on providing intermural activities. He said that he expects cross country, golf and possibly girls volleyball might be operating in March.
Septic system upgrade
Construction on an upgraded septic system for the school building is expected to get underway this summer or by the fall of 2021, Mr. Doelger said.
With eacher Maggie Manarel taking a maternity leave beginning Jan. 25, Erin Farley, a teacher from upstate with the necessary certifications, has been appointed as a leave replacement.
Ms. Farley is in need of housing until late April. Mr. Doelger asked that anyone on the Island or near Shelter Island who has space let him know and he will pass the information on to Ms. Farley.
The district has revised its calendar for budget workshops.
The initial workshop is slated for Monday, Feb. 8, at 6 p.m. to be followed by the regular monthly Board of Education meeting. The second workshop is on Wednesday, Feb. 24 at 6 p.m. to be followed by the following:
• March 8 at 6 p.m. to be followed by a regular Board of Education meeting
A complete list of dates can be found on the school website atshelterisland.k12.ny.us.
By March 19, propositions for the May 18 ballot must be filed by 5 p.m. in the District Clerk’s office and petitions for Board of Education seats can be obtained from the district clerk, either on the website or at the school. Those petitions must be filed with the district by April 19.