The first order of business was an introduction of Student Ex-Officio Board Member, Bellport High School Student Council President Jack Frankie. Board President E. Anne Hayes welcomed Jack, who was sworn in by District Clerk Christine Flynn.

During his report, Superintendent of Schools Dr. Joseph Giani noted that the District website now includes a quick link, located under the reopening plan, called COVID-19 Report Card. As part of the state’s contact tracing effort, the link accesses the New York State website, where the community can access COVID-19 positive data, which includes enrolled students and working teachers/staff who are physically present in the schools, including in-person learning. Dr. Giani also said the District notifies families when a student or adult at school exhibits symptoms of COVID-19, flu or a cold and sends them home. This is done out of an abundance of caution so that families and individuals can self-monitor in the event that they were in close contact with the individual. If the person sent home tests positive for COVID-19, those who were in close contact will be notified by the Department of Health and the District.

Dr. Giani suggested that parents check the Virtual Backpack on a weekly basis for new items. In an effort to reduce items being touched, all flyers from the District and community organizations will be placed in the Virtual Backpack on the District website.

The District is forming a committee to review and provide suggestions for updating and improving the District’s website, which will be a sub-committee of the Board’s Advisory Committee for Strategic Planning. Those interested in serving on the sub-committee should send an email to District Clerk Christine Flynn at cflynn@southcountry.org.

Dr. Giani asked Athletic Director Robert McIntyre to prepare a plan for the Board to consider for a soft roll-out of after-school athletic activities that follow and adhere to the NYS Department of Health’s guidance for sports and recreation and the NYS Public High School Athletic Association’s Return to Interscholastic Athletics plan. The plan will be discussed during an upcoming Board of Education meeting.

Dr. Giani also discussed the reopening plan with the Board, stating that he is pleased with the way faculty and students are adjusting to the new normal. He said faculty are doing well with connecting live with students through Google Meet, and they will continue to be provided with professional development and collaborative planning opportunities on Wednesdays. The Virtual Meet the Teachers Nights have also been going well. The District recently doubled its bandwidth and is planning on installing additional devices to improve remote connections.

There was much discussion about changes to the current secondary Wednesday schedule. The District found that students attending the morning or evening BOCES programs were unable to connect with their classroom teacher for support while on the school bus. Allowing students to check-in up until midnight made reconciling attendance the next day unmanageable for the teachers. The District also found it necessary to ensure timely and accurate attendance for all students. Changes to the Wednesday schedule went into effect on Sept. 29. The District continues to seek faculty input through virtual office hours or the District survey, which will soon be sent to elementary teachers, seeking input on the elementary Wednesday schedule.

There was a discussion about Board priorities for the 2020-2021 school year. Dr. Giani said he believes the Board’s areas of focus should be equity in education, technology and remote learning and social-emotional support for students and staff. A draft will be prepared for consideration at the Oct. 14 meeting.

An item for discussion also included a first reading of revisions to the Code of Conduct as a result of the move to a hybrid/remote teaching and learning model. The recommended changes are under IV Prohibited Student Conduct with the addition of item n. Tape, record, or photograph remote learning sessions, streaming instructional or extra-curricular content or District-produced videos/media without prior permission from the classroom teacher and/or administration. -and- XI Visitors to the School with the addition of item 5. Parents who wish to tape, record, photograph or in any way document remote learning sessions, streaming instructional or extra-curricular content or District-produced video/media shall request permission in advance from the classroom teacher and/or administration. Administration recommends these revisions and offer them as a first reading and public hearing for the Code of Conduct. A second reading and adoption will take place at a special meeting on Sept. 29.

The Board approved revisions to the Reopening Plan Update concerning temperature checks. School physician Dr. Donatelli was consulted regarding the length of time to wait between temperature re-checks and what is considered the need for a re-check prompted by a low temperature reading. Based on Dr. Donatelli’s advice, the Board decided to wait no less than 10 minutes from the first reading if a high temperature is recorded. Furthermore, if a temperature records below 95 degrees, it will be rescanned for device accuracy.

During the Business Consent Agenda, the Board approved the 2020-2021 Tax Levy in the amount of $63,555,904 before STAR reimbursement and predicted on an estimated valuation of $26,604,904 that would result in an estimated tax rate of $238.89 per $100 assessed value.

The Board also thanked the Suffolk Country Department of Fire, Rescue and Emergency Services for its donation of 4,100 face masks to be used in the District’s best interest.

The Special Meeting of the Board of Education is scheduled for Sept. 29 at 5:30 p.m.