Pulaski Street Elementary School Students in March. Photo: Riverhead Central School District

The Riverhead Central School District has released its written plan for its fall reopening. 

The plan, recommended by Superintendent Dr. Augustine Tornatore, was approved last night by the school board in a 4-3 vote after a nearly two-hour debate and discussion from community members arguing for and against an indoor mask mandate. (See prior coverage.)

The plan follows the recommendations of the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention and the American Academy of Pediatrics: an indoor mask mandate and three feet physical distancing for students and staff to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus. (See document below.) Mask use outdoors will be optional.

All students will return in-person and there will be no remote learning, the guidance says. Students who are absent because of a mandatory quarantine “will be offered opportunities for learning via Google Classroom and work may be sent home.”

Six feet of physical distancing is required during indoor physical education activity, music classes involving singing or wind instruments and while eating lunch, the guidance reads.

Sports, clubs, activities and field trips will operate in-person in the fall, according to the plan.

The district will continuously review field trips, meeting size for clubs, and interactions with agencies and facilities outside of the district for certain activities.

Ongoing consideration will be given to coronavirus policies relating to athletics including the transportation of teams, use of locker rooms, use of masks, the use and care of equipment and the planning of large events with multiple schools.

Last week, the Suffolk County Department of Health Services recommended school districts follow the CDC and American Academy of Pediatrics guidance. The New York State Department of Education also endorsed the CDC and AAP guidance. 

The district is prepared to either tighten or loosen guidance based on COVID-19 transmission levels, according to the document, which was posted today on the district’s website.

The district will continue reporting positive cases of COVID-19 to Suffolk County. All individuals who test positive for COVID-19 must remain in isolation for 10 days from date of symptom onset or test date if asymptomatic.

This year’s focus will be on students’ mental health and closing learning gaps after the difficulties they have faced over the past year and a half with the pandemic, the district said.

“We recognize that the social emotional well-being of our students and staff during these challenging times is critically important,” the document reads. “The district has made available resources and referrals 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 guidance 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. Diagnostic assessments will provide teachers with the data needed to drive instructional practices and content. Formative assessments will allow for content to be adjusted and differentiated accordingly.”

Riverhead Central School District Reopening Plan


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Alek Lewis is a lifelong Riverhead resident and a 2021 graduate of Stony Brook University’s School of Communication and Journalism. Previously, he served as news editor of Stony Brook’s student newspaper, The Statesman, and was a member of the campus’s chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. Email: alek@riverheadlocal.com