• HW logo



    July 16, 2020


    Dear Members of the Hewlett-Woodmere Community,

    I hope this letter finds you safe and well and enjoying summer relaxation time with family and friends.
    I have received many questions from members of our community regarding the reopening of schools in September. As I am sure you can imagine, there are myriad factors that must be considered when making such an important determination.

    On Monday, July 13, Governor Cuomo and the New York State Department of Health released preliminary guidance on the reopening of schools in the fall. In order for schools to reopen, the following criteria must be met:

    • The school district must reside in a region currently in Phase 4 of reopening (Long Island is currently in Phase 4).
    • The average daily infection rate of region residents must remain below 5% utilizing a 14-day average (Long Island is currently at a 1.5% daily infection rate).
    • Schools are mandated to close if the region’s infection rate is greater than 9% using a 7-day average after August 1st. 

    The New York State Education Department released guidance today that focuses on the following specific areas.

    • Health and Safety
    • Facilities
    • Nutrition
    • Transportation
    • Social-Emotional Well-Being
    • School Schedules
    • Budget and Fiscal
    • Attendance and Chronic Absenteeism
    • Technology and Connectivity
    • Teaching and Learning
    • Special Education
    • Bilingual Education and World Languages
    • Staffing and Human Resources

    All districts are required to submit their reopening plans to the state by July 31, and the governor will make the final determination regarding reopening during the first week of August. All plans must be approved by New York State.

    As you know, the District’s Reopening Task Force has been hard at work for many weeks preparing for a variety of scenarios including a full reopening, a partial reopening, and a return to remote instruction. The Reopening Task Force is comprised of many District stakeholders, including administration, Board of Education members, teachers, and parents. A school-based plan outlining all of these possibilities must be included in our submission to the state. Of course, our priority in all reopening decisions is the health, safety, and wellness of our students and staff.

    Our Reopening Task Force Work Groups have been focusing on best practices and recommendations for Facilities, Health and Safety, Instruction, Building Practices, Transportation, and Extra-Curricular Activities. While we are well poised to provide our recommendations to the state, the six Work Groups and the entire Task Force will continue to meet regularly through July 31 to refine and finalize our plans according to the governor’s and NYSED requirements.

    The Reopening Task Force is currently reviewing the following four official documents to guide the development of the reopening plan that needs to be submitted to the NYS Department of Education:

    Department of Health Guidance
    Reopening New York: Guidelines 

    Reopening New York: Checklist

    New York State Education Department Guidance


    As a parent myself, I know that there is nothing more important than the health and safety of your children. I have heard from some parents expressing concern regarding the return to in-person instruction absent a vaccine, and other parents who would like their children to return to school full time. Please know that not all decisions regarding reopening are ours to make, and while it will be virtually impossible to satisfy everyone’s wishes, we will do our very best to continue to provide your children with quality educational experiences during this most difficult time.

    I will share our final reopening plan once it is approved by the state in August. Thank you in advance for your ongoing patience as we continue to navigate these unchartered waters together.

    Warm regards,
    Ralph Marino, Jr., Ed.D.