On Wednesday, Jan. 6, Glen Cove residents voiced their questions and concerns at a virtual Board of Education (BOE) meeting regarding the increased COVID-19 cases, and how the school district plans on handling the situation. Superintendent Dr. Maria Rianna reassurred majority of the residents about the precautions and steps the district is doing to ensure the safety of the staff, students and families.
The distribution site for an at-home testing kit has been moved to the district office, which can be picked up from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. if a family has not obtained a testing kit according to Rianna.
“On the box, most of them indicate a January 2022 expiration date. We have spoken to the Governor’s office in regard to that, as well as to Nassau BOCES who received these tests and distributed them to us. From what we are told, the FDA has indicated that those tests are valid for use until the end of April,” stated Rianna. “We will be meeting with the Governor’s office again indicating that we did not have this information in advance of obtaining the tests, and we would like to be assured that that is accurate. But to date, that is what we’ve been told.”
The current number of testing kits received are based on last year’s enrollment. An updated number of enrollment has been presented to the Governor’s office, resulting in potentially receiving more testing kits at a currently unknown time.
“Originally, the intent was to distribute these to all the districts in New York, and be able to utilize them before returning back from the holiday. Unfortunately, we did not receive any on Long Island until sometime either Friday or Saturday. Then distribution began, which did not allow all districts to pick up in time for distribution before Jan. 3,” continued Rianna.
If your child has been exposed, or displaying any symptoms, it is advised to complete a PCR test even if the results of the at-home testing kit is positive. This would ensure the accuracy of the at-home kit, and the specific follow-up that needs to be done for the child. Your child will have the availability to access the classroom instructions, and assignments online.
“I want to thank the police, the highway department, and a number of district employees that sat out in the cold to distribute these the other night. I want to thank many of the parents who dropped us a note that said they felt it was very well organized, it was fluid, it moved quickly, and they appreciate the character, the smiles, and the good-will of all those involved. I thank the community for understanding this was an overwhelming task, and the staff who gave additional hours for the distribution,” said Rianna.
Every morning the school district gets notified if there will be enough bus drivers to run all the routes. “I don’t anticipate issues at this point in time, but I know that surrounding districts have had some concerns as well,” said Rianna. “You will get a robocall for that bus route if we are told that bus is having difficulty making the route or not going to make it at all. As soon as we are made aware, we would send information out to all the students and families that are affiliated with that route.”
Glen Cove resident Cortney Capasso expressed her concern of how trustworthy the test is if the FDA did not manufacture the product. In response Rianna stated, “This is what they’ve given us, and we will be talking to the Governor’s office again and asking for further information.”
BOE trustee Angela Raimo also responded to Capasso’s concern. “My understanding was it’s supposed to be used more like a screening tool. So if it’s positive, that’s a good indicator that you are positive but if it’s negative, it’s not necessarily negative and you should get a PCR if you are questioning the results either way.”
Another concern raised by Capasso is how the school district plans on addressing mental health issues that remote learning causes on students. “When we are made aware that a student is not doing well or has the issue with any type of remote learning, we have been able to provide interventions. We have hired a number of mental health workers this year, and that is exactly what we utilize them for. If your child is having issues, we will continue to support that child and provide services accordingly,” responded Rianna.
Glen Cove resident Michelle Perone questioned if there is a number of cases that need to be reached to determine it has become unsafe to have the children in school.
Rianna replied, “It’s not a number; it’s the type of absences that we’re having. It differs slightly in each building, but we are trying to do our best. I can’t give the actual magic number because it’s different in each building, and we have different sized staff in each building.”
Capasso also questioned the district’s stance on our unelected governor’s push for children to be vaccinated in order to receive public education. “At this point in time, we are not advocating for it to be a mandate because of the concerns that have been brought up,” Rianna responded.
The school district does not require a doctor’s note or negative result after your child has completed the required quarantine period. After the two-week quarantine period from when your child first tested positive, you can still produce a positive result up to 90 days.