With excitement and anticipation, The Valley Stream Union Free School District Thirteen opened its doors for the start of the 20-21 school year on September 3rd. Teachers, with masks in place, welcomed back both new and familiar faces after the long school closures of last school year and the summer vacation. Students eagerly entered Willow Road, Wheeler Avenue, Howell Road, and James A. Dever elementary schools, ready to begin a new year of learning, albeit in a decidedly different fashion than in any year before.
It was a long and strenuous planning process that required all hands-on deck, but on the first day of school, all procedures and protocols that had been meticulously designed to ensure a smooth opening unfolded exactly as planned. What was most notable on the first day back were the myriad health protocols in place to help ensure the health and safety of all students and District staff. These protocols include the wearing of masks, desks positioned at minimum six feet apart, multiple hand-washing opportunities for students and staff, hand sanitizer availability, and many more as stipulated by the CDC and state and local health departments. In addition and as outlined in the District’s reopening plan, teachers and staff were given in-depth professional training prior to reopening day on the use of virtual learning technology to help ensure a robust education for students, whether in school or during their remote sessions.
“Since the beginning of the pandemic, we have made a conscious effort to uphold our commitment to our students, staff and their families,” said Superintendent Dr. Constance D. Evelyn. “We are confident that despite the challenges we may face, this will be another year of growth and knowledge for our students, our teachers and District personnel.”
For students in kindergarten, 1st grade and small special education classes, parents could choose a five-day, in-school option or a fully remote option. For students in second grade through sixth grade, parents could choose between a hybrid learning model where students are in school two days a week and learn remotely three days, or a fully remote learning model. For the hybrid model, students have been designated in either cohort A or B, which limits the number of students in a classroom on any given day, allowing desks to be socially distanced in classrooms. To no one’s surprise, the students followed directions extremely well and kept their masks on (other than during scheduled mask breaks and while eating lunch and snacks) to keep their fellow classmates safe.