District Focuses on Reopening Plan for the Fall

Board of Education June 4 Work Session Recap  thumbnail172297
Administrators from the Lynbrook Public Schools joined the district’s virtual board of education work session on June 4 to recommend a reopening plan for Sept. 2020. Although the district is still awaiting guidance from the New York State governor, a committee consisting of several subcommittees of teachers, parents, support staff and administrators was formed to review the district’s current model and develop a comprehensive plan for the start of the new school year.

Areas of focus for the committee were: acquiring a standardized learning management system, creating a full structured day of learning at both the elementary and secondary levels, improved communication between the schools and the home, providing differentiation virtually, board policy updates and professional development and supervision, among others.
Superintendent of Schools Dr. Melissa Burak led the communication subcommittee. She reported that she will continue to release a weekly bulletin to keep the community updated. Principals will also continue to provide weekly bulletins to share information with students and families. If the district is required to continue operating remotely in the fall, it was recommended that each school hold daily morning announcements in the form of a video or recorded message through a standardized learning management system. This system will be a platform for all Lynbrook students, staff and families to access.

Students will receive assignments here through live instruction, recorded lessons and independent work. It will also allow teachers to provide feedback, feature a calendar tool for organization and be a communication hub for families. Policy changes were also recommended to the board to reflect home instruction. These were in the form of student attendance, student records, child abuse in an educational setting, acceptable use in terms of remote learning, computer network and electronic records.

Dr. Paul Lynch, assistant superintendent for finance, operations, and information systems, presented the recommendations of his devices and equity subcommittee. Students in grades 6-12 already participate in a one-to-one program which gives them devices to use at home. With the possibility of going fully remote, the subcommittee recommended supplying developmentally appropriate devices for students in grades K-2. The same devices would be given to students in grades 3-5. In addition, the district would reimage and install software to enable remote maintenance of all existing grade 6-12 devices. This same software would be installed in the devices for grades K-5 for maintenance to be done at home. Dr. Lynch also discussed providing appropriate software for high school courses, non-computer-based materials for students to use at home, funding device insurance for those in need, working with Altice to provide the necessary bandwidth for remote learning and developing a support model for the elementary level with a possibility of a “drop in” service for troubleshooting.
Neil MacDermott, instructional technology coordinator, led the learning management system subcommittee. He presented on the committee’s process of researching what tools other districts are using and the importance of finding the right fit to meet the communication, instruction and organizational goals of the Lynbrook Public Schools. The subcommittee invited product vendors specializing in learning management systems to speak with them. Committee members are still deliberating on what system they believe would work best in the district and have taken into consideration key factors such as the age appropriateness of the interface, how it integrates with PowerSchool, if it provides the opportunity for supervision and support, if it integrates with the district’s current resources and what training is provided by the system’s company.

Dr. Gerard Beleckas, assistant superintendent for curriculum, instruction and assessment, led the elementary and secondary curriculum subcommittees. At the elementary level, his subcommittee recommended a structured school day with announcements starting at 8:35 a.m., followed by a live, 20-minute daily classroom meeting. Students would receive live daily ELA and math lessons, social studies and social-emotional learning/health lessons once per cycle with small group options and additional teaching assistant support. They would also engage in live special area classes and support services, have teacher check-ins and receive extra help opportunities. In addition, the students would complete independent assignments in ELA, math, social studies and SEL/health. At the secondary level, announcements would start at 8:55 a.m. and students would participate in five periods of live instruction while rotating odd and even class periods. Like the elementary level, high school students would receive extra help opportunities, independent assignments and would engage in flipped lesson components to maximize instructional time.

Susan Saban, director of special services, presented the recommendations of her subcommittee on special education and English as a New Language. She discussed the importance of differentiating instruction, especially during remote learning. A main component of this will be through the learning management system once it is selected. Staff will receive professional development on this system to properly give students the tools they need to succeed. The hope is to have an initial training for the new system before June 17 and offer expanded training opportunities during the summer. Aside from the computer-based learning, Ms. Saban spoke about providing students with math manipulatives, graphic organizers, curriculum and goal appropriate tools at home to differentiate instruction. In addition, the subcommittee recommended a parent toolbox be included in the learning management system. This would feature links to how-to videos and ENL translation tools for parents to further support their children at home.

Dr. Maureen Berman, assistant superintendent for personnel, transportation and student support services, presented on the observation and supervision process for staff during remote learning. Her subcommittee members reviewed the Danielson Rubric which is currently used to observe teachers in the classroom. Due to virtual instruction, the subcommittee had to clarify observation criteria. The members also recommended announced observations, access for administrators to ‘sit-in’ virtual class lessons and providing training for administrators and teachers.
West End Elementary School Principal Dr. Cindy Lee led the PTA subcommittee which focused on the use of facilities in the fall. The subcommittee recommended that certain fall events be moved to the spring and many events be virtual. This includes student assemblies, general PTA, PTA council and compact meetings, PTA council evening presentations and fundraisers. In addition, PTA parent communication would be uploaded to a virtual backpack and the school websites, movie events would be changed to drive-in movies, no parent volunteers would be allowed in the buildings and more.

Joseph Pallotta, director of fine and performing arts, led a subcommittee on clubs and events. With social distancing measures still in place and an unclear vision of what the future will hold for gatherings, Mr. Pallotta stated that the subcommittee will be making recommendations over the next few weeks and months about clubs and events in the district. The subcommittee will explore how to maintain clubs and adapt them to the most current situation and assess meeting and congregation options. They will also review availability and usage of larger meeting areas to coincide with social distancing measures. In terms of district events, the subcommittee will be discussing how to transition to small ensembles and explore options for the school musicals such as recording and live streaming. 

At the conclusion of the presentation, Dr. Burak thanked the administrators, parents, teachers and support staff for bringing different perspectives and ideas to this committee.