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In new change of plans, Mattituck-Cutchogue schools will again be in-person K-8

The Mattituck-Cutchogue School District has received word from the state that it can have in-person instruction in grades K to 8 this fall, according to Superintendent Jill Gierasch. The move brings the district’s reopening plan back closer to what it had originally proposed, but believed it needed to change.

In a letter sent to parents Wednesday, Ms. Gierasch said that after speaking with New York State Regent Roger Tilles Sunday, she subsequently received the necessary state guidance relieving the district of what’s known as the “the edge of desk to edge of desk requirement.”

The “edge of desk” rule requires the 6-foot social distancing spacing to be the edge of the desk to the edge of an adjacent work desk, according to an Aug. 16 letter Ms. Gierasch sent to parents. 

Previously, this guidance was interpreted by districts as being “chair to chair” or “child to child,” she wrote. “While this may not seem like a significant change, it actually causes almost all classrooms to lose an entire row- approximately 4 desks.” . 

The dropping of the “edge of desk” requirement changes the landscape in classroom and will allow a return to in-person instruction. “Yes, this is great news!,” Ms. Gierasch wrote in the Aug. 26 letter. “We can open K-8 full in-person.”

School officials have also made further changes for classrooms by purchasing desk barriers – 3-sided polycarbonate desk shields – for grades K-6.

“Purchasing these will allow about 5 to 6 feet distance between each child’s workspace,” Ms. Gierasch wrote. “We had recently placed a small order for special circumstances, but understood they were on back order. I anticipate these shields will arrive between September 10-September 14.”

Ms. Gierasch said the following will apply:

• From Tuesday, Sept. 8 to Friday, September 18, grades K-12 will be taught in hybrid instruction, a combination of in-person and virtual. 

•On Monday, Sept. 21,  K-8 begins with full in-person instruction. 

• And on Monday, Sept. 21, grades 9-12 will continue with hybrid instruction. 

“I recognize the last week must have been extremely stressful and challenging for families attempting to plan for childcare on alternate days, but the sooner I provided notice, the more time given to plan accordingly,” Ms. Gierasch wrote on Wednesday. 

“This type of pre-planning may be indeed necessary down the road, at just a moment’s notice, including that of returning to full remote if the Governor shuts down Long Island schools (he has said this is one region) or a case breaks out locally and requires instituting alternate plans as outlined in our Continuity of Learning Plan,” she explained.

There are currently no plans to offer a full remote option in Mattituck-Cutchogue, according to Ms. Gierasch. She said very few families were interested in that option and the costs would be “exorbitant.”