By Elise Fisch
The Florida Union Free School District Board of Education held a work session meeting on Thurs., Sept. 3 in the S.S. Seward cafeteria, now transformed into a classroom. This was the last meeting held in preparation for the first day of in-person classes, which began on Tues., Sept. 8.
The District was pleased to report near hundred percent attendance on their first official day of remote learning. Having this side of the new school system more securely in place will allow more effort to be devoted to fine-tuning the technicalities of in-person school days. Each building, Golden Hill Elementary and S.S. Seward Institute, will be capped at fifty percent capacity, and students will adhere to a schedule of alternating days.
The members of the Board have created a staggered schedule of arrival for parents to drive their child or children to the school doors. Limited bus capacity proved difficult in terms of reasonable scheduling, and thankfully, as Superintendent Jan Jehring expresses, many parents were willing and able to drive their kids to school. But, as more students are being driven now than before, Board members fear the possibility of traffic backing up onto Main St. if too many cars arrive at once. With plans in place for students to arrive safely and separately, fine details regarding efficiency will only come to attention in practice.
Orange County’s Health Commissioner, Dr. Irina Gelman, recently mandated that masks be worn inside of all school buildings at all times, including on buses. Masks may be removed only during meal times or during teacher-designated mask breaks. Other than at these times, wearing masks and facial coverings will be enforced in all buildings in the District.
All staff and students will have their temperatures read by a non-contact thermal scanner upon arrival in the school building. Any known positive cases of COVID-19 within the District will be reported to the state, and the person in question will be unable to enter the school building until they are cleared by a doctor. If there is a student in one of the school buildings who registers an above average temperature on the thermal scanner or is presenting symptoms of COVID-19, they may be required to leave the premises. Superintendent Jehring, expressed hopes that every student would have a parent or guardian nearby who would be able to take the student home, if such a circumstance was to arise.
Athletics will still be offered by the District for this school year, but are likely not to start up until October at the earliest. Some New York districts have been disallowed to open their athletics departments until as late as January, if at all. Board members share concerns over what may befall their District in regard to extracurricular activities, but as of yet are confident that athletics will indeed be offered to all students. Students who have opted into a full schedule of remote learning will be allowed the option to participate in sports or athletics on school grounds.
The next meeting of the Florida Union Free School District Board of Education will be on Thurs., Sept. 17 in the S.S. Seward cafeteria at 53 N. Main St. in Florida, NY at 7 p.m.
One of several tables outside the school doors laden with books, packets, & other learning material left by teachers for students to pick up before classes start.