The Freeport School District Board of Education returned to business as usual for its board meeting on Jan. 13 after schools remained closed for a week after winter break to avoid the spread of Covid-19.
“We’re glad to welcome everyone back and hope that everyone stays safe and healthy this year,” said Board Trustee Maria Jordan-Awalom.
District officials had ordered the week-long closure, during which students would only attend school remotely over concerns of the holiday-spread, as many people continued to gather in groups indoors without maintaining social distancing.
As of Jan. 15, nearly 150 students, teachers and staff members in the district had tested positive for Covid-19, according to the State Department of Health.
The rate is considerably lower compared with the Village of Freeport, which has seen about 300 new positive cases every week since the start of 2021. At press time, Freeport had had nearly 4,000 positive cases since the pandemic started, according to the Nassau County Department of Health.
To combat the spread and protect those in the district, Superintendent Kishore Kuncham urged all staff members to make appointments to get the Covid-19 vaccine, as education workers are included in the current phase of the vaccine distribution.
“I’m encouraging everyone to go for the vaccine,” Kuncham said. “The only way we can go back to some type of normal is with the vaccine and following the protocols we’ve already put in place, like social distancing, wearing your masks and washing your hands.”
Many of the district’s health and mental health employees have already received their first doses of the vaccine. With fears of a vaccine shortage, Freeport and other school districts are advocating for education workers to be included in the high-priority groups to receive the vaccine.
“We have advocated that all education professionals — both teachers and support staff, who provide critical services to their communities — be given priority access to the Covid vaccine should they choose to receive it, said Andy Pallotta, president of the New York State United Teachers union. “We understand that it will take time to immunize the millions in the 1a and 1b priority groups, and we look forward to the opportunity to learn more from the state on how NYSUT as a union can play a role in ensuring our members have reliable access to immunization.”
A successful first-wave of vaccinations could help bring an end to the current infection wave, said County Executive Laura Curran, noting Nassau ranked among the highest -erforming vaccine operations in the state.
Long Island, as a whole, currently has one of the highest infection rates in the state, with Nassau averaging over 7 percent, with more than 800 residents hospitalized.
“Nassau County is promptly administering every last vaccine we get from the state and federal government, but demand is far outweighing supply right now,” Curran said. “I will continue to press the federal government to ramp up delivery quickly so we can get more needles into the arms of residents.”