The Riverhead Central School district is ensuring students will have access to food, academic work and essential building access during school closures the next few weeks by providing a series of recommendations for local families to follow.

“The district has been deeply engaged in the developments, guidances and recommendations related to COVID-19,” Riverhead school superintendent Dr. Aurelia Henriquez said in a letter posted to the district website today.

As mandated last week by Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone, all schools will be closed for a period of two weeks, from Monday March 16 through Friday March 27. Henriquez said that during this time the district “will engage in continued cleaning of the school and continue to make preparations for extended learning should the need present itself.”

Plans the district has put in place include:

Student Work: The district has created an academic plan so students do not disrupt their education while they are at home. Teachers will post classwork assignments through e-boards, Google classroom and other various online resources.

Building Access: Any students who need to pick up materials or essential items from school buildings will have to adhere to a strict schedule for Wednesday, March 18 only, and make an appointment to go. No more than two people will be permitted at a time, Henriquez stated, and all students will have to be accompanied by a parent or guardian.

Students in grades K-6 will have to contact their school principal via email to arrange access

Students in grades 7-12 whose last names begin with:

  • A-E, will have access to buildings from 8am to 8:30 am
  • F-J, will have access to buildings from 8:45 am- to 9:15 am
  • K-P, will have access to buildings from 9:30 am- to 10 am
  • Q-X, will have access to building from 10:15 am- to 10:45 am

Student Meals: Grab and Go Meals will be available on a daily basis at all K-4 elementary schools from 11am to 1pm, beginning on Wednesday, March 18. Families from all grades levels are welcome to participate, Henriquez stated.

Additionally, Long Island Cares will continue with their mobile food pantry service, which provides weekly access to free produce, meats and more to local families in need, LI Cares chief program officer Jessica Rosati confirmed in an interview. Please see list of dates and times here.

“We have been communicating with the superintendent over the weekend in regards to long term plans,” Rosati said. “The superintendent knows absolutely she can count with us if she needs help with anything.”

A 2018 Long Island Index report shows that children under 18 living in Riverhead and neighboring hamlets to the south have a poverty level between 41 and 83 percent. And, according to 2017 data from the United States Census Bureau, 15.7% of all Riverhead residents are living in poverty — the lowest of all the townships in Suffolk County.

Lilian R., a Riverhead resident and mother of three children, has been the main provider for her family for the last month. A house cleaner by trade, her work is sporadic, she said, and her husband, a day laborer, has not been able to find consistent work. With the bills piling up, free school meals have become essential to the well-being of her children.

“Knowing I will be able to go to the school and get food for my children is a big relief,” Lilian said. “I now pray to God this virus goes away and things go back to normal soon.”

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Maria Piedrabuena
María, a multimedia reporter, graduated from Stony Brook University with degrees in journalism and women and gender studies. She has worked for several news outlets including News12 and Fortune Magazine. A native of Spain, she loves to read, write and travel. She lives in Manorville. Email Maria