'We Have Done Everything That Is Within Our Control,' Superintendent of Jericho Schools Hank Grishman Says

JERICHO, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) – Long Island’s 124 public school districts are racing to be ready for the start of classes, with new health and safety requirements.

Educators spent the summer planning and budgeting for the new normal.

It’s a volatile issue across Long Island 124 school districts: All remote, or five days in-person learning?

“It’s been a long time. I’m excited for my kids to get back into some sense of a normal life,” said Jericho parent Lisa Davis.

The pressure is on in Jericho. School reopens Thursday for 3,200 students. Parents were given the choice to have the kids learn from home – 500 will do so – or return to the classroom, at least part time, on alternate days.

“There is anxiety and concern in terms of, have we planned for everything?” said Superintendent of Jericho Schools Hank Grishman.

Other districts – most open next week – will be watching Jericho, which is one of the top-rated in the country. Will the buses work? How about school lunches in the converted gym-into-cafeteria?

“To our staff and to our parents: We have done everything that was within our control,” Grishman said.

That’s based, he says, on last-minute, changing directives from Albany.

Halls are temporarily filled with desks being moved out, allotting for 14 or so in a classroom, and another 14 at home learning via webcam. Six feet is measured between desks, each with a three-sided plastic sneeze shield.

“We had money in a budget line and we needed it, and we’ve used it,” Grishman said.

Change comes with a price tag. Jericho has spent more than $2 million from its rainy day fund on new teachers, classroom aides, security guards, air filtration, and personal protective equipment, directional signs in hallways, masks required.

“It’s a scary event based upon all the unknowns,” Grishman said.

It’s all hands on deck, CBS2’s Jennifer McLogan reported. They will be monitoring hour by hour and having conferences at day’s end to fix and fine tune problems as they occur and keep students and staff as safe as possible.

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