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Riverhead Charter School outlines reopen plan as new ninth grade program set to begin

The Riverhead Charter School released a reentry plan July 29 that maps out options for reopening the school in September. All schools were required to file their reentry plan by July 31, to show how they plan to educate students in the wake of the COVID-19.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo had ordered all schools to close on March 16, requiring students to learn remotely through virtual programs. The governor announced on Friday that schools have the green light to reopen in the fall. 

The Riverhead Charter School’s enrollment for the 2020-21 school year will increase by more than 100 students, in part due to the fact that the school is offering a ninth grade this year in addition to its current K-8 curriculum.

The estimated enrollment for the 2020-21 school year is 692, including the new ninth grade. The current total enrollment is 590, according to Superintendent Raymond Ankrum. 

Other schools have projected an enrollment increase due to kids whose parents left the city for the East End. Asked if the Charter School was seeing anything like that, Mr. Ankrum said, “Our numbers are dictated by our charter, so our enrollment is stable. Over the past couple of years our wait list has grown exponentially.”

Charter schools differ from other public schools in that their budget is comprised of funding from the home district of each child attending the school. It is based on a per-pupil cost determined by the state and based on the per-student cost from the student’s home district. 

The bulk of the Riverhead Charter School students come from the Riverhead, Longwood and William Floyd districts, but the school draws students from a total of 17 districts, according to Mr. Ankrum. 

The Riverhead Charter School’s school reentry plan — like most school reentry plans — calls for a combination of in-person instruction, at-home virtual learning and ‘hybrid’ learning, which involves a combination of both proposals. The plan is subject to change, officials say. 

For students in grades K-5, the plan shows one group of students that will physically be in school Mondays and Tuesdays and another group that will be in school Thursdays and Fridays. The first group will learn remotely while the other group is in school and vice versa. On Wednesdays, all of the students will learn remotely, according to Mr. Ankrum. The school will be disinfected and sanitized Wendesdays, the plan states.

“K-3 in-person instruction is not practical due to the inability to social distance,” the plan says. However, it adds that grades K-3 would be done in person for two days a week, adding, “This is critical for their social development.” 

Students in grades 6 to 9 will have live online instruction, according to the plan. 

For students in grades 6 to 8, all classes will use the Google Classroom and Zoom computer programs and each student will have a Chromebook computer, according to the plan. They will have 60 minutes of reading, math, and rotating electives, along with 20 minutes of “homeroom” and a lunch break. 

For the ninth graders, the plan is for all classes to use Google Classroom and Zoom with Chromebooks, and they will participate in seven 45-minute classes, along with 15 minutes in “homeroom” and a lunch break. 

 A number of health and safety programs will also be put in place, according to the plan. Among them: 

• Staff members will submit to a daily health questionnaire required before they enter the school building.

• Staff and students are required to pass through a temperature scanner upon arrival. Any temperature of 100°F or higher will be immediately isolated and sent home.

• Social distancing: Every classroom will have 9-12 students.

• All staff and students are required to wear face coverings.

• Students and staff will receive training on proper hand washing techniques and frequency.

To read the entire six-page report, visit the charter school’s website: riverheadcharterschool.org.