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District releases opening plan that features full in-person learning for all Riverhead schools

All students in the Riverhead Central School District will return to in-person learning when the new year begins Sept. 2.

After announcing that masks would be mandated indoors at Tuesday’s Board of Education meeting, the district released an updated opening plan on its website that outlines more specifics of how the new year will operate. Much of the plan centers around resuming day-to-day operations amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

“As we continue to address the challenges of COVID-19, our decisions will be grounded in advice from medical professionals, by monitoring of the local infection rate and additional guidance provided by [New York State Education Department],” Superintendent Augustine Tornatore said in a letter that introduces the plan.

The plan allows schools to return to pre-COVID schedules, including arrival and dismissal times and bell transitions. The schools will maintain three feet of social distancing where possible, whereas last year schools tried to maintain six feet. Frequent hand washing and use of sanitizer will also be encouraged, Mr. Tornatore wrote.

The guidelines say that eating areas will have students spaced more than six feet and staff will remain three feet apart from students when masked. Six feet is required during indoor physical education activity and music classes involving singing or wind instruments. Periodic mask breaks will be provided in school. And when weather permits, students and staff will be encourage to spend time outside while learning on school grounds.

Cleaning will be done on an ongoing basis as it was during the previous school year.

The district must continue to report positive cases to the Suffolk County Department of Health. Anyone who tests positive for COVID-19 must remain in isolation for 10 days from date of symptoms or the test date if asymptomatic. In classrooms, the close contact definition that would require additional quarantines does not apply if both students correctly and consistently are wearing masks and are within three to six feet of each other. Wearing masks, therefore, greatly reduces the number of potential students who would need to quarantine if seated around an infected student.

Any close contacts who do not fall into that exception would be required to quarantine for 10 days and monitor symptoms through the 14th day.

The plan also outlines resources “to address mental health, behavioral and emotional needs of students and staff when school opens for in-person instruction.”

Identifying and addressing learning gaps will also be a priority, the plan states.

“We will utilize a variety of assessments to determine academic areas in need of attention and develop support plans tailored to students’ specific needs,” according to the plan.

In terms of transportation, buses will be sanitized frequently and consistently and everyone on the bus will be required to wear a mask. Every bus will have PPE supplies available.