• For official communications from our Superintendent, please refer to the following messages:

June 10, 2020

  • Dear Parents:

    June is a time for year-end celebrations. Even though our buildings remain closed and our families are socially distanced, our school community is finding creative ways to connect with one another and celebrate our students’ many accomplishments. From virtual activities, online ceremonies, and car parades, it’s been heartwarming to see the many ways our district has come together to applaud our students and mark the conclusion of this very unusual school year.

    In particular, our high school administrators, faculty, and parent representatives have designed innovative commencement events that honor our high school graduates while ensuring the safety of all participants. The personal touches at each of these celebrations show our community’s overwhelming love and support for our students. These various senior events will culminate with a drive-in movie experience showcasing the GNPS Class of 2020 Graduation Premiere.

    This school year, 586 seniors will earn their diploma from the Great Neck Public Schools. Graduates from our three high schools have successfully completed a rigorous academic program through our nationally-recognized school district. We are so proud of all our graduates and their accomplishments throughout their entire school careers.

    Congratulations to our Valedictorians, Raymond Lin of North High and Austin George of South High, and our Salutatorians, Judah Nouriyelian of North High and Tessie Dong of South High. Information about our Valedictorians and Salutatorians, as well as photo galleries from recent senior events, are available on our district website. Also, be sure to follow the Great Neck Public Schools on Facebook for more photos and news about school activities, student accomplishments, and more.

     

    2020 Virtual Summer Enrichment & Virtual Summer Recreation Programs

    Our Summer Enrichment staff has been creating a series of engaging week-long virtual workshops for students entering grades 2–9. In these one-week workshops, students can explore new skills and concepts over the course of five days. Courses will be available in the visual arts, drama, math, science, reading, writing, history, current events, health, technology, music, life skills, and more.  Additionally, we will provide courses geared specifically toward helping our middle school students find success as they transition into sixth and seventh grade in September. For incoming middle school students, we are offering several courses to help build necessary skills, including: Becoming a Sixth Grader, Becoming a Seventh Grader, Sixth and Seventh Grade Summer Reading Assignment Workshops, and Introduction to Sixth Grade TC Writing and Reading Workshops.  

    We are also offering a select few courses that will run for the entire four weeks. These include courses in middle school math (grades 6, 7, and 8), enrichment math (Intro to EP Math 6, Intro to Pre-Algebra, and Intro to Algebra I), Earth Science 8, and a brand new Intro to Spanish workshop intended for students entering grades 5–9 with no previous knowledge of Spanish.  

    In addition, our elementary staff will offer several academic preview and enrichment opportunities as well. We will offer programs in math, reading, writing, science, and other areas of creative exploration for students entering grades 2–5. These elementary courses are designed to give students a preview of what they will be learning in September. There are also new elementary electives, including Summer Book Club, Travel Journalism, Virtual Museum, Animal Awareness, and others.

    The GNPS Recreation Department is working with district teachers and other providers to create a slate of online physical activity courses that will feature live, synchronous and interactive instruction for up to 60 minutes before and after the online Summer Enrichment courses, which run 9 a.m. to Noon. The courses will meet on an every-other-day basis for the duration of the four-week summer program, meaning there will be ten sessions per offering. The program will include offerings that are individual in nature, require little or no specialized equipment, and are targeted to the interests and abilities of different age groups. Activity themes include: Yoga, Mat Pilates, Cardio Bootcamp/Kickboxing, Tai Chi, and Dance. Our goal is to have programming available for students grades K–2, 3–5, and 6–8.

    Both Summer Enrichment and Summer Recreation programs will run from July 6 through July 31, during the hours of 8 a.m.–1 p.m.  Students can take up to three enrichment workshops and two recreation workshops a day. Families can enroll in as many different weeks as they want, as long as there is availability upon registration. The program brochure will be out this week, and live online registration will open on Monday, June 15. Please email summerenrichment@greatneck.k12.ny.us for more information about Summer Enrichment and rec@greatneck.k12.ny.us for more information about Summer Recreation. 

     

    Budget Vote Update: Absentee Ballot Deadline Extended

    On Sunday, June 7, Governor Cuomo issued an Executive Order extending the deadline for school districts to receive absentee ballots for the annual District Election and School Budget Vote. Ballots submitted after June 9 will be accepted only by mail and must be received by the Office of the District Clerk no later than June 16.​

    Please visit our website for more information about the absentee ballot deadline extension and the 2020-21 proposed school budget. If you have additional questions, contact the District Clerk between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. on weekdays at 441-4020, or by email at jlizza@greatneck.k12.ny.us.

     

    Sincerely,

    Dr. Teresa Prendergast
    Superintendent of Schools

May 29, 2020

  • Dear GNPS School Community:

    I’m writing to announce the creation of a new district-wide committee to help guide a safe and measured reopening of school for September. While we don’t have any definitive answers regarding what school will look like in the fall, the district has proactively established a committee to explore a variety of options for the delivery of instruction for the start of the 2020-21 school year.

    The GNPS School Reopening Advisory Committee is divided into five subcommittees to provide direction on how best to reopen our schools in a manner that provides for the health, safety, and wellness of all students and staff. The subcommittees will make suggestions for all scenarios, which include the opening of schools or a continuation of schools forced to remain closed.

    Committee members have been selected to best represent all stakeholders in our school community. The committees are composed of representatives from the Board of Education, administration, teachers, staff, and parents as well as medical professionals.

    The GNPS school reopening advisory subcommittees will proactively convene immediately to discuss the specific needs of our school community, and make recommendations. In the meantime, we await further guidance about the reopening of schools from the Governor’s Reimagine Education Advisory Council, the New York State Board of Regents, and the State Education Department. District plans will be developed in accordance with guidelines provided by education officials, our local and state Departments of Health, and the Centers for Disease Controls.  

    As this pandemic progresses, we are committed to planning, preparing, and providing our students with exceptional learning opportunities in a safe, supportive environment -- no matter what obstacles may come our way. Thank you for your continued patience during these challenging times. We will continue to keep you informed in the weeks ahead.

    Regards,

    Teresa Prendergast

May 18, 2020

  • Dear GNPS School Community:

    The District will be closed on Monday, May 25, in observance of Memorial Day. No instruction will take place on this date. I hope this three-day weekend offers you and your family an opportunity to rest and relax, while also honoring the sacrifices of our nation's brave servicemen and servicewomen.

    Unless we hear anything contrary from Governor Cuomo, the last day of classes for students will be Monday, June 15. This date is earlier than indicated in the District calendar, as a result of remote instruction taking place during the originally scheduled Spring Recess in April.

    The last day for teachers will be Tuesday, June 16, which is scheduled as a Superintendent’s Conference Day.

    More information about the end of the school year will be provided in the weeks ahead.

    Regards,
    Teresa Prendergast

May 12, 2020

  • Dear GNPS School Community:

    It’s been a busy ten days since Governor Cuomo’s announcement that all schools across the State will remain closed through the end of this academic year. Our remote online learning plan continues to evolve and progress, and we remain committed to providing a variety of high-quality instructional methods to support our students’ academic, social, and emotional growth during this very challenging time.

    I recognize that the Governor’s decision to keep schools closed is especially painful for the families of our high school seniors, who were looking forward to prom, graduation and other end-of-year experiences. Since the onset of remote learning, we have been discussing different ways to safely celebrate the incredible accomplishments of the Class of 2020. 

    Our high school and district administrators have carefully considered the preferences of parent and student leaders for these occasions, while ensuring compliance with the Governor’s Executive Orders, social distancing measures, and regional guidelines for reopening New York. Large gatherings are restricted through Phase Four of the Governor's reopening guidelines, which prohibits us from organizing live events with substantial numbers of participants. However, while we can’t physically be together for these celebrations, a variety of creative solutions are in the works to provide meaningful celebrations that all participants can enjoy while remaining safely apart. Additional information will be shared with you by your building principal in the days and weeks ahead.

    There is no doubt that the Class of 2020 has the support of our entire school community, as witnessed through the “Light Up The Night” recognition on May 1. Our district joined schools across Long Island for this 20-minute recognition at 8:20 p.m. (20:20 military time), which was coordinated in partnership with Section VIII athletics. We’re grateful for the support of the Manhasset-Lakeville, Great Neck Alert, and Great Neck Vigilant volunteer fire departments, which stationed their trucks at North and South high schools to flash their lights and sound their sirens in honor of Great Neck’s high school seniors. A short video of the recognition is available on our district homepage.

    In addition to student recognitions, our district and building administrators have also been discussing other ways the Governor’s recent decisions will impact the remainder of our school year. Here are a few updates:

    ·  Our administrators have been reviewing the district’s grading policy in light of the school closure and remote learning. Information about fourth-quarter grades and final grades for our middle school and high school students was shared with families on Friday. Information pertaining to elementary school report card grade reporting is forthcoming.

    ·  Building principals will be making arrangements for students to pick up personal belongings that may have been left in school prior to the closing. Details will be sent directly to you from your child’s principal.  

    · Our Food and Nutrition team continues to offer grab-and-go meal services for families each week. We’re proud to provide this valuable service for our school community, and we thank our dedicated Food and Nutrition team members for their essential services. Details about grab-and-go meals can be found on the coronavirus information page on the district website.

    While we’re still navigating the current day-to-day challenges of this pandemic, we’re simultaneously looking ahead to the future. Here are some brief but important updates about the upcoming 2020-21 Budget Vote and discussions about the eventual reopening of schools.

     

    Budget Update

    Pursuant to the Governor’s Executive Order No. 202.26, the 2020 School Budget Vote and Election will take place on Tuesday, June 9. Due to health and safety concerns, the Governor has ordered this vote to take place by absentee ballot only. The district will mail each qualified voter an absentee ballot, a postage paid return envelope, and information regarding the submission of the absentee ballot. Completed ballots must be received by the District Clerk by 5 p.m. on June 9. Additional information is available on the budget page of the district website.

    The Great Neck Board of Education will hold an Official Public Hearing and Budget Adoption on Wednesday, May 13, at 11 a.m. via live stream, and the Annual Budget Hearing will take place on Tuesday, May 26, at 11 a.m. via live stream. Instructions for viewing these Board meetings will be posted on the district website in advance of each meeting.

     

    Reopening Task Force

    The State Education Department (SED) recently announced plans to create a state-wide task force to guide the reopening of schools. The task force, made up of educational leaders (superintendents, principals, teachers, parents, school board members and other stakeholders), will provide recommendations to the Governor’s New York Forward Re-Opening Advisory Board. 

    Locally, I’ll be serving on a committee of the Nassau County School Superintendents Association to evaluate the unique challenges of reopening schools in our area. Our district will continue to follow directions provided through Executive Orders from the Governor, plus guidance from the State Education Department, our local and state Departments of Health, and the CDC. 

    As always, health and safety remain our number one priority in all decisions. We are bound to follow the Governor’s “NY on Pause” orders as they are revised in the coming weeks. 

     

    I'd like to close this message by reflecting on some important recognitions from this past week: Teacher Appreciation Week, Nurses Appreciation Day, and Mother’s Day. These annual celebrations have taken on a new light this year. 

    I’d like to express my heartfelt gratitude for all our educators and school nurses. Education and health care are always evolving – even more so over the past few months – and these professionals have maneuvered every turn with flexibility, expertise, and compassion. Thank you for all that you do for our students and families in this wonderful school community.

    I also applaud our parent leaders and community members who are helping our students and our neighbors through this crisis. Thank you to our families who are supporting our children’s education at home, and all our medical professionals who are putting themselves in harm’s way to fight this disease. We’re all in this together, and I’m grateful for all your efforts.

     

    Sincerely,

    Dr. Teresa Prendergast
    Superintendent of Schools

April 3, 2020

  • Dear GNPS School Community,

    I hope this communication finds you and your loved ones healthy and safe. As you are undoubtedly aware, Governor Cuomo has extended the statewide closure until April 15, and all essential services, including remote learning, child care and distribution of food will continue during the spring recess period from April 8 through April 17. We have been instructed by our counsel that the Governor’s Executive Order requiring continuation of instruction during spring recess has the force of law and, therefore, we must comply with the Governor’s Order. 

    Those who are observing the religious holidays of Passover or Easter may be excused from participation on Thursday, April 9, Friday, April 10 and/or Thursday, April 16 and there will be no repercussions to those who cannot participate or complete assignments because of a religious observance. No tests or new materials will take place during the aforementioned days.   Please communicate with your child's teacher or building administrator if you have any questions or concerns about any such observances.

    I know this news may come as a disappointment, but we must comply with Governor Cuomo’s Executive Order to provide continuity of instruction. Remote learning can take place in a variety of manners, and teachers will prepare and execute lessons in a plethora of creative ways. Our teachers and administrators have been working tirelessly to provide meaningful learning experiences and social-emotional support for our students. Their efforts are most appreciated. 

    We are all faced with the constant realization that this may be the most traumatic, global event of our lifetimes and I have not lost sight of the fact that everyone is dealing with the fear and sadness that is surrounding us 24/7. I will continue to keep you and your loved ones in my thoughts and prayers. Stay well, and remember: 

    We Are Great Neck Strong.       

    Sincerely,

    Dr. Teresa Prendergast
    Superintendent of Schools

March 27, 2020

  • Dear GNPS Community,

    I hope this message finds you and your family safe and well. 

    Over the past two weeks, the fight against Coronavirus (COVID-19) has completely changed day-to-day life. I recognize the challenges faced by members of our school community -- including our dedicated employees -- who are balancing work, childcare, remote learning, and their family’s health at home. Despite these challenges, our school community is finding new, innovative ways to connect and learn. 

    I’m proud of the valuable support and services that our outstanding faculty and other staff continue to provide for our students and community during this school closure. I’d like to share an update on some of these efforts.

    “Grab and Go” School Meal Services

    Over Food and Nutrition Department started offering “grab and go” meal services on March 18, and they have since distributed hundreds of bagged meals for our district families. In accordance with the Governor’s stay-at-home orders to limit the spread of the virus, our meal pick-up program will change from a daily service to a twice-a-week service. 

    Effective March 30, meals will be available on Mondays and Thursdays only, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Families may pick up three days worth of meals, which include breakfast and lunch selections, milk, and a healthy snack. Pick-up locations are at the rear kitchen entrances at both North Middle School and South High School. Directions to the pick-up locations and additional details about “Grab and Go” School Meal Services are available on our district website.

    I applaud our Food and Nutrition Department for organizing this essential service, and our food service employees who are preparing and distributing these healthy, nutritious school meals that some of our families depend upon.

    Emergency Childcare Services

    The district has partnered with SCOPE to provide emergency childcare services for students in Prekindergarten through grade 6. This program is available to district families currently enrolled in SCOPE, as well as families of medical personnel and first responders. Details about SCOPE Emergency Childcare Services, including hours, rates, and contact information, are available on our district website. Please note that this program is dependent upon sufficient enrollment. 

    On behalf of the entire district, I’d like to take this opportunity to thank all the health care professionals and first responders who are on the front lines in the fight against this pandemic. Many of these individuals live right here in our community, and we are so grateful for your efforts to heal the sick and save lives.

    Continuity of Instruction

    The district officially launched remote online learning on March 18, and the program is continually evolving as our educators explore different modalities of instruction and adapt their methods to suit the needs of their students.

    While the classroom experience cannot be replicated digitally, our knowledgeable and caring educators are using a variety of tools and technologies to keep our students engaged and connected during this extended closure. I’d like to thank our dedicated teachers, support staff, technology specialists, and school leaders for providing meaningful learning opportunities for our students. Our faculty is working tirelessly to serve our students and it’s greatly appreciated. 

    I also recognize the efforts of our parents and families who are supporting our students’ education at home. Many parents have reached out to our teachers, building principals, technology support team, and district leaders as we navigate this new way of learning together. Your questions and feedback help to strengthen our program and our school-home partnerships. 

    Governor Cuomo stated this morning that schools will be closed longer than originally projected, so our remote learning plan will advance and adjust accordingly. Building principals and district administrators will continue to provide updates to teachers, parents, and students as we look to provide varied approaches to support teaching and learning.

    Mental Health

    Recent changes in lifestyle -- including social isolation, remote online learning, and the dramatic deviation from our daily routines -- can cause stress for children and adults alike. Our team of school psychologists and social workers have compiled resources to support our community’s well-being during this challenging time. I encourage families to take advantage of these mental health resources on our website

    Additionally, New York State has launched a free mental health hotline at 1-844-863-9314. Calls are answered by mental health professionals across the state who are volunteering their services.

    Facilities

    Solitary outdoor activities may help counter feelings of isolation while supporting physical and mental wellness. Still, it's absolutely critical that we heed social distancing directives and avoid socializing in groups. Our district’s tracks are open for public use, provided visitors adhere to social distancing directives that recommend a minimum distance of six feet between individuals. 

    In accordance with guidance from the Town of North Hempstead, our school playgrounds are closed until further notice and groups are not permitted to congregate on fields or courts. These efforts will help prevent potential exposure to the virus on playground surfaces or between individuals. For the safety of our community, our district security staff will continue to patrol our facilities and enforce rules as necessary. 

    Our Buildings and Grounds staff has conducted an extensive, deep cleaning of our school buildings. Thank you to our custodial staff, maintenance staff, and everyone in the Buildings and Grounds Department for their efforts. 

    Testing Announcements

    • The New York State Education Department (NYSED) has suspended State Assessment Exams scheduled for April and May. This includes the ELA and math assessments for grades 3-8, science tests for grades 4 and 8, NYSESLAT exams, and NYSAA exams.
    • We are awaiting updates from NYSED regarding Regents Exams scheduled for June. 
    • The College Board has provided guidance that Advanced Placement (AP) exams will be administered online. The content range will be adjusted for the new format and to allow for what students likely will have not covered in class due to school closures. More details will be provided as it becomes available.
    • SAT and ACT administrations scheduled for April and May have been canceled. At this time, administrations for June are still scheduled.

    We remain in contact with the New York State Education Department (NYSED) for the latest developments, and we’ll continue to share these with our community via email and updates on our district website at www.greatneck.k12.ny.us/coronavirus.

    Our district leaders are still monitoring the virus and following all guidance from health and government officials. We continue to consult with the Nassau County Department of Health (DOH) to determine if any direct exposure could have occurred in a school setting. However, our schools have been closed to students for 14 days now, and the longer school is out of session, the less likely that this is the case. 

    Thank you again to our entire school community for your patience, cooperation, communication, and flexibility as we continue to adapt to this new, temporary way of living and learning. This is a stressful time for all of us, but we are Great Neck Strong… and we’re all in this together.

March 15, 2020

  • Dear GNPS Community,

    Due to the severity of this pandemic, and in the best interests of our students, staff and global community, the Great Neck Public Schools will be closed until further notice. You will be notified at least 48 hours before schools are to reopen.

    Remote learning from home will begin for all students Pre-K through Grade 12 on Wednesday, March 18, 2020. You will receive information on Tuesday about how this is to unfold from your child’s classroom teacher and/or building principal.

    We appreciate your understanding and the support you’ve shown during these trying times. Together we will navigate these uncharted waters, and our team continues to thank you and wish you good health.

    Sincerely,

    Dr. Teresa Prendergast, Superintendent of Schools
    Mr. John Powell, Assistant Superintendent for Business
    Dr. Stephen Lando, Assistant Superintendent for Secondary Education
    Ms. Kelly Newman, Assistant Superintendent for Elementary Instruction
    Dr. Joseph Hickey, Assistant Superintendent for Pupil Personnel Services

March 13, 2020

  • Dear GNPS Community,

    As new information about Coronavirus continues to develop, I realize that there are a lot of questions and concerns within our school community. The truth is that this situation is continuously evolving, and new developments continue to arise at any time.

    Our number one priority is the health and safety of our staff and students. At this time, there are no known cases of Coronavirus among our students or staff. However, we do know the Department of Health is investigating at least one confirmed case of Coronavirus in our community, with ties to the Great Neck Public Schools. Therefore, the Great Neck Public Schools will be closed on Monday, March 16, and Tuesday, March 17. (These will be designated as “snow days” and will not, at this time, impact the Spring Recess.)

    Governor Andrew Cuomo announced late this afternoon that the New York State requirement that students receive a minimum of 180 days of instruction will be waived due to the Coronavirus pandemic. However, we await written confirmation and clear guidance from the Governor’s Office, the Office of General Counsel and the Division of Budget.

    In an effort to further ensure the health and safety of our students and staff, we are taking the following steps:

    • Large school events are postponed through April 20. This includes plays, performances, luncheons, and student recognitions. If possible, these events will be rescheduled.
    • Field trips are postponed through April 20. School leaders will reevaluate the need and ability to reschedule the trips after we return from Spring Recess.
    • The district’s afternoon, evening, and weekend recreation programs are suspended through April 20. Our Elementary AM Enrichment program and SCOPE afterschool childcare will continue to operate as normal.
    • All use of facilities by any outside individual or group is suspended through April 20, effective immediately.
    • The SAT administration scheduled for Saturday, March 14, has been canceled.
    • The ACT administration scheduled for Saturday, April 4, has been canceled.
    • Extensive cleaning continues in all of our schools and buses. Frequently touched surfaces are disinfected throughout the day, followed by more thorough cleaning and sanitizing after school hours. Our district-wide cleaning protocols continue to meet and/or exceed all State guidance.

    Information and resources are being added to our website (www.greatneck.k12.ny.us/coronavirus) to help keep our school community informed about the latest developments. We are all navigating this unprecedented situation together. I urge our school community members to continue to follow all recommendations to prevent the spread of the virus as well as inaccurate information.

    • Follow CDC guidelines for proper hygiene. Wash your hands thoroughly and frequently, cover your cough/sneeze with a tissue or your sleeve/elbow, stay home if you’re feeling ill, and avoid others who are sick.
    • Practice “social distancing.” When possible, limit non-essential contact with others (such as hosting or attending social activities) to minimize exposure to viruses.
    • Seek information from credible sources. This is a rapidly developing situation, and it’s important to obtain accurate information from local, state, and federal agencies. Up-to-date information will be posted on the district website.

    I will continue to communicate openly via email with our school community, and I appreciate the feedback I’ve received thus far. We’re all in this together, and I’m grateful for your cooperation in our efforts to provide a safe educational environment. Thank you for your continued support and understanding.

    Sincerely,

    Dr. Teresa Prendergast, Superintendent of Schools

March 12, 2020

  • Dear GNPS Community,

    The District will be holding a Superintendent’s Conference Day for staff only on Friday, March 13, 2020. The purpose of this day will be to allow staff to finalize plans for remote learning in the event of an extended school closure. At this time, we have no plans to close school for an extended period of time. However, it is in everyone’s best interest to be prepared.

    Thank you.

    Dr. Teresa Prendergast, Superintendent of Schools

March 10, 2020

  • Dear GNPS School Community,

    We continue to monitor the Coronavirus (COVID-19), which has started to affect normal school operations for other districts on Long Island and in New York State.

    The Nassau County Department of Health (DOH) is responsible for notifying school districts if a student or staff member tests positive for Coronavirus. At this time, we have not been informed by the DOH of any cases within our school community.

    Developments about this virus are fluid and we recognize that situations may change quickly. This update focuses on our continued efforts to plan and prepare based on the latest guidance from local, state, and federal health and government agencies.

    Guidance from the New York State Education Department

    New guidance from the New York State Education Department (NYSED) released on March 9 requires schools to close for 24 hours upon notification that a student or staff member tests positive for Coronavirus. The DOH will initiate an investigation to immediately determine the contacts that the individual may have had within the schools. This 24-hour period provides time for the DOH investigation, as well as time for staff to conduct a deep cleaning of facilities. School officials will consult with county and state health officials to assess the situation and determine if a longer closure is warranted. The DOH remains the lead agency for making and enforcing closures and quarantine decisions.

    Some parents have asked if we should close schools as a preventative measure, before a case is identified. Public health interventions of this scale can only be initiated by the county or state. The New York State Department of Health has indicated that pre-emptive closures are only effective in preventing the spread of illness if they are implemented for an entire region (like a county) and for a longer duration (like 6 weeks). The guidance released by New York State on March 9 did not include preventative steps beyond the planning and cleaning that is already taking place.

    School Events

    As this situation evolves, we will continue to evaluate school events and field trips on a case-by-case basis. Health officials recommend that the elderly and those with underlying health conditions avoid travel and large gatherings, and we will try to provide alternatives for those who should not, or choose not to attend school events.

    Cleaning and Disinfecting of Facilities

    As outlined in previous letters, the district has implemented comprehensive cleaning procedures to safeguard the health of our students and staff. Our existing cleaning protocols meet the newly issued State guidance, and we will continue to maintain these measures. This includes:

    • Disinfecting frequently-touched surfaces throughout the day.
    • Conducting thorough cleaning of our buildings, including the use of electrostatic cleaning machines to sanitize classrooms and large areas.
    • Utilizing additional hand sanitizer dispensers that were installed in all of our school buildings.
    • Disinfecting cafeteria tables in between lunch periods.
    • Cleaning all school buses more frequently and thoroughly.
    • Encouraging frequent hand washing and reiterating proper hygiene with students and staff.

    Planning for Continuity of Instruction

    As discussed previously, the district has been working to plan and prepare for continuity of instruction in the event of an extended closure. A school closure will be a rapid response to mitigate an actual health threat and thus would likely occur without much advanced notice. Any information regarding school closures and/or adjustments to school programming will be communicated via email and posted to the district website. We are asking our students, staff, and families to be prepared for this scenario.

    • Students and staff who have district-issued iPads are reminded to bring their devices and chargers to and from school daily.
    • All students should be sure they can successfully log into their Google account.
    • Families who do not have Internet access at home due to financial hardship may be eligible for a free mobile WiFi hotspot device through the district. School personnel are reaching out to families who may qualify for this program.

    Committees are meeting at the elementary and secondary levels to review our technologies and develop a plan for remote online instruction. Should there be a need to implement this plan, additional instructions will be shared and technical support will be made available to those experiencing difficulties.

    Absences

    We will continue to treat absences with compassion and empathy, in accordance with Board policy.

    • Any student who is absent for medical reasons or due to a quarantine related to Coronavirus, or any student whose physician is recommending absence due to underlying medical reasons, will be treated as an excused absence.
    • Any student absent by family choice due to concern about Coronavirus will count as an unexcused absence.

    Talking to Children About the Coronavirus

    It is important to model calm behavior, keep an open line of communication, and help children attain a fact-based understanding of the situation in a developmentally appropriate manner. Several resources have been added to the district website to help parents navigate conversations with their children about Coronavirus. Please visit https://www.greatneck.k12.ny.us/coronavirus to review these resources. We will continue to share information with our community as it becomes available. There is a lot of information circulating related to the Coronavirus, and I’d like to reiterate the importance of relying on credible sources of information.

    I’d like to take this opportunity to thank all of our dedicated school staff—including our nurses, custodial staff, teachers, paraprofessionals, bus drivers, support staff, and school leaders—who are working tirelessly to ensure a safe school environment and plan for unfamiliar situations. Together, with the cooperation of our entire school community, we will continue to provide the best learning opportunities and support for our students and families.

    Sincerely,

    Dr. Teresa Prendergast, Superintendent of Schools

March 6, 2020

  • Dear GNPS School Community,


    As you have likely already heard, New York State now has several confirmed cases of Coronavirus (COVID-19), including one confirmed case in Nassau County. District officials remain in close contact with the Nassau County Department of Health (DOH) as details emerge about these cases. 

    While developments about Coronavirus are fluid, recommendations from local, state, and national health officials remain constant: the best way to prevent the spread of viruses is through proper hygiene. CDC guidelines recommend frequent hand washing, coughing and sneezing into one’s elbow, avoiding touching your face, staying home when sick, and avoiding close contact with others who are sick.

    As I've shared in previous letters, the district has already taken several actions and precautions to promote a healthy school environment. This includes cleaning frequently-touched surfaces, installing additional hand sanitizers at every building, and using disinfecting machines to sanitize classrooms and large spaces.

    Since my last letter on Feb. 27, the district has implemented additional measures to support the health of our students and staff. All school buses are now disinfected more frequently and more thoroughly. This includes vehicles operated by our bus company, WE Transport, Inc., as well as vehicles owned, operated and maintained by the school district. In our school buildings, our staff continues to disinfect cafeteria tables in between lunch periods.

    We have reviewed the district’s Pandemic Plan to prepare for different scenarios that may arise in the future. One such scenario focuses on unforeseen extended school closures. 

    Our district’s long-standing commitment to technology integration – including the use of iPads, Google Classrooms, and educational apps – provides a solid foundation for remote learning opportunities. Committees have been established at the elementary and secondary levels to identify methods to leverage our existing technology to ensure continuity of instruction in the event of an extended school closing.

    While specific strategies of this contingency plan are still under development, we remind our students and staff who have district-issued iPads to bring their devices and chargers to and from school daily. Families who do not have Internet access at home due to financial hardship may be eligible for a free mobile WiFi hotspot device through the district. Personnel from each of our schools are reaching out to families who may be eligible for this program. 

    I hope that this information about our district’s planning and preventative measures helps to ease concerns within our school community. It’s important to remain calm and to obtain news about this virus from credible local, state, and national government agencies. 

    A page has been created on the district website to share links and resources from reputable agencies and organizations. Please visit www.greatneck.k12.ny.us/coronavirus for more information, including joint guidance from the National Association of School Psychologists and the National Association of School Nurses about talking to children about Coronavirus. 

    As always, the health and safety of our students, faculty, and staff remain the District's primary concern. We continue to follow all guidance provided by local, state, and national health and government agencies, and I will provide updates as I receive new information. Thank you for your continued cooperation as we face this evolving situation.

    Sincerely,

    Dr. Teresa Prendergast, Superintendent of Schools

February 27, 2020

  • Dear GNPS School Community,

    The recent news involving the Novel Coronavirus is creating concern across the globe, and our school district is closely monitoring all facets of the emerging situation very carefully.

    This morning, members of the Nassau County Council of School Superintendents and I met with Dr. Lawrence Eisenstein, the Commissioner of Health for the Nassau County Department of Health. As of this writing, there are no confirmed cases of Novel Coronavirus in New York State and 15 confirmed cases in the United States, excluding those individuals returning from a cruise. According to Dr. Eisenstein, six people in Nassau County tested negative for Novel Coronavirus, and there are currently 78 asymptomatic individuals who recently traveled to China being monitored daily (for a period of up to 14 days) by the DOH.

    The DOH will determine if any student returning from China needs to be monitored. The District will receive such notification directly from the DOH. Furthermore, the DOH will notify the District when a child can return to school. We will work closely with the DOH to follow these guidelines.

    I want to take a moment to update you on some of the precautions and actions we have taken and will be taking within our schools:

    • Our custodial staff has been cleaning frequently touched surfaces (doorknobs, computer keyboards, handrails, etc.) throughout the day.
    • We utilize large disinfecting machines that are used to clean classrooms and large spaces.
    • Additional hand sanitizers have been installed in each of our schools.
    • Students and staff are encouraged to wash their hands throughout the day with greater frequency.
    • Our school nurses are available to answer any health-related questions.

    Additionally, I’d like to remind our community about the simple steps we can all take to help stop the spread of this and other respiratory viruses:

    • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer, preferably with 60-95% alcohol.
    • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
    • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
    • Stay home when you are sick.
    • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
    • Routinely clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.

    If you have specific questions about your child's health, please be sure to communicate with your child's physician. Students who show any evidence of not feeling well should remain at home and students who are ill must be fever-free for at least 24 hours (without using a fever-reducing medicine) before returning to school. As always, your child's school nurse and/or principal remain a resource to you and your family regarding this issue.

    We remain in close communication with and will continue to follow the guidance from the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH), New York State Education Department (NYSED), and the Nassau County Department of Health (DOH). In the event of a health emergency, any decisions regarding a school closing would come at the direction of the local Departments of Health and various state governmental agencies, with input from the NYSED. While we have not received guidance from NYSED regarding this matter, the District is looking into plans to ensure some continuity of instruction in the unlikely event that we are forced to close school.

    The latest information about the Novel Coronavirus and preventative measures can be found on the websites for the following organizations and agencies: NYS Department of Health, Centers for Disease Control (CDC), Nassau County Health Department, and New York State Education Department (NYSED). Additionally, the NYS Department of Health has established a hotline to answer questions about the Novel Coronavirus at 1-888-364-3065.

    As always, the health and safety of our students, faculty, and staff remain the District's primary concern. Rest assured that we will continue to follow the directions we receive from State and local authorities regarding the Novel Coronavirus, and will take the precautionary measures outlined above for the safety of our school community. I will continue to keep you updated on any information as I receive it. Thank you all for your cooperation.

    Sincerely,

    Dr. Teresa Prendergast, Superintendent of Schools

February 6, 2020

  • Dear GNPS School Community,

    As you know, our district has been monitoring the situation with the Novel Coronavirus very closely and has been in frequent contact with the New York State Health Department, the Nassau County Department of Health and our District Medical Director. This morning we received updated information from the New York State Department of Health and the New York State Education Department.

    At this time, New York State has no confirmed cases of the Novel Coronavirus and according to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), the immediate health risk is considered low. Nonetheless, our District has taken proactive measures to ensure the health and safety of our community. At this time of year, there are many possible causes for a respiratory illness.

    We continue to remind students, staff and parents that the best thing we can do to keep everyone healthy is to practice routine respiratory prevention methods, which include the following:

    • Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds;
    • Cover mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze, using a sleeve or tissue;
    • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands;
    • Routinely clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces;
    • Staying home if you feel ill.
    • Students need to be fever-free for at least 24 hours (without using a fever-reducing medicine) and only then can return to school.

    The White House issued a Presidential Proclamation that established guidelines for travelers returning from China after February 2. As part of this action, new screening protocols are in effect for individuals entering the United States from China at designated airports. If the Department of Health (DOH) requires a student returning from China to comply with a quarantine order, the District will receive such notification from the DOH. Furthermore, the DOH will notify the District when a student can return to school. We will work closely with the DOH to follow these guidelines.

    Students who visited China and returned before February 2 may return to school unless the DOH informs the school that a student must comply with a quarantine order. Absent a school receiving such direction from the DOH, students may not be excluded from school or any school activities based on recent travel.

    All student health information is confidential and may only be shared in accordance with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA.) Should you have additional questions or concerns, you may call the hotline set up by the Department of Health at 1-888-364-3065, where experts can answer questions regarding the Novel Coronavirus. You may also visit the dedicated website created by the Department of Health for updates and guidance at https://www.health.ny.gov/diseases/communicable/coronavirus/#_blank. Additional information may also be found at CDC’s dedicated 2019-nCoV website at https://www.cdc.gov/nCoV.

    We will continue to monitor this situation, and will follow all guidance from the Department of Health and the State Education Department. Thank you for your cooperation in engaging in the prevention practices outlined above to help keep our community healthy.

    Sincerely,

    Dr. Teresa Prendergast, Superintendent of Schools

January 27, 2020

  • Dear GNPS School Community,

    Over the past week, we have been monitoring the newly-identified Novel Coronavirus and we have sought guidance on whether there are any additional precautions our school district should be taking at this time. We have been in contact with our school physician and the Nassau County Department of Health, which is responsible for coordinating school health and safety protocols with state and federal authorities.

    To date, the directives from the Nassau County Department of Health and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have been consistent: there have been no identified cases in our region, and thus no reason to alter our usual operations. However, what we can do is reinforce our usual flu season prevention practices – thorough cleaning and disinfection of facilities, reminding staff and students to cover their mouths when coughing, and frequent hand washing. As with any illness, a child who complains of not feeling well, should be kept at home.

    Persons wishing to learn more about the Novel Coronavirus illness can visit the US Centers for Disease Control website. As of today, their website indicates: “While CDC considers this is a very serious public health threat, based on current information, the immediate health risk from 2019-nCoV to the general American public is considered low at this time.”

    We will remain in close contact with the appropriate health officials, and will follow any recommendations they issue. We will keep you informed of any further developments.

    Best regards,

    Dr. Teresa Prendergast, Superintendent of Schools