Florida School Prepares for Reopening Possibilities 

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By Elise Fisch

The Florida Union Free School District Board of Education met in the S.S. Seward Institute cafeteria on Thurs., July 9. This was the first school board meeting held in-person since the schools were shut down in March, and the cafeteria was utilized in order for participants to keep a safe distance from one another. All Board of Education meetings will be held at 7 p.m. (formerly 7:30 p.m.) for the upcoming 2020/2021 school year.

   With little guidance from Albany as of yet, district administrators are attempting to solve the question of reopening schools in the Fall for every fathomable scenario. Golden Hill Elementary and S.S. Seward Middle and High Schools are prepared to open with one hundred percent attendance with observed social distancing, if need be. 

Classrooms are expected to be cut down to half capacity, making it easier to comply with social distancing regulations. The District is anticipating developments on the Capital Project, which will include two new rooms being added onto the library, allowing for more classroom options.

Dana Castine, Math, Science, and Technology Director of the District has been working with administrators to devise a plan for Golden Hill Elementary that would ensure the safety of all staff and students while still prioritizing the students’ education. 

Castine believes the 2020/2021 school year will be a “hybrid” of on-school-premises and remote, or at-home, learning. She imagines students will arrive at school only on designated days of the week, rather than attending all five days, Monday through Friday. This will help keep a limit on the number of bodies inside the school at a time, a precaution taken to ensure safe travel through the hallways. 

The District also expects that some parents will want to keep their children at home for the duration of the school year, and Castine and her team are coming up with solutions to ensure those students are still able to receive aid from teachers and resources from the school. These solutions are heavily reliant upon students’ access to things like computers, Internet, and books, and the District is looking to ensure all students, no matter where they are learning from, will have equal access to all school resources.

The District will continue to adapt and develop their plans for reopening as they await guidance from the state government. More information from Gov. Andrew Cuomo is be forthcoming and the Board of Education will reconvene on Thurs., July 16 to hold a reorganizational meeting as the beginning of the next school year fast approaches.

Rheaume Discusses Graduation 

Michael Rheaume, principal of the S.S. Seward Institute, discussed the commencement proceedings that were held on Sat., July 11. Families were instructed to arrive with their graduates in different time slots according to their last name. Each participating student was able to arrive with two vehicles for family members, one car up front and one slightly further back. 

Two family members per student were permitted to leave their cars and walk up to the podium with their student as they received their diploma. A photo was taken of the graduate and the graduate with their family members. Faculty members in attendance were situated inside the building, watching the ceremony from the second-floor window and waving down to wish graduates well in their last moments as Seward students. The event will be live-streamed on Twitch.

Next Meeting 

The next meeting will be held on Thurs., Aug. 20, at 7 p.m. in the S. S. Seward Institute cafeteria, located at 71 N. Main St. in Florida.

Photo by Elise Fisch

As the Class of 2020 at S.S. Seward Institute graduates, the Florida School District works toward preparing for opening in the fall.  


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