Crinkly eyes were everywhere. There was just no mistaking the broadly smiling faces that crinkled the corner of their eyes and lit up children’s faces, even beneath their facemasks on the Opening Day of school. On Sept. 14, Hicksville Public Schools (HPS) welcomed kindergarten to grade 12 students whose parents chose in-person instruction, as well as kindergarten to grade 12 students whose parents chose remote learning for their children.
Like the weather for last year’s Opening Day, the temperatures were warm and the sun shone between high clouds.
“It was wonderful to see our students again,” said Superintendent of Schools Marianne Litzman, as she welcomed students in front of Hicksville High School. “We are ready.”
Weather aside, hardly anything has stayed the same since last year’s Opening Day.
The pandemic has required a sea change not experienced in our lifetimes. As with everyone’s daily lives, school life will be different this year. In order to keep the community safe, and to comply with Centers for Disease Control, New York State Department of Health, Nassau County Department of Health and New York State Education Department guidelines, all students and staff are wearing masks and practicing social distancing, including in classrooms where desks are set six feet apart.
Posters and hallway markers serve as personal space reminders. Temperature checks are conducted at school doors to ensure students are well before entering the building. Water bottle refilling stations have replaced shared water fountains, and hand-sanitizing stations have been installed in all classrooms, Nurses’ offices, and in school lobbies.
The reopening of HPS required a tremendous, coordinated effort to ensure the health and safety of our students and staff. The board of education, parents, staff and administrators have worked throughout the summer to solve a myriad of issues, large and small, while implementing robust new ways of teaching and learning. And keeping stakeholders informed was critically important during the entire process. Administrators even manned the phones the weekend before Opening Day, answering hundreds of call center questions from parents.
As we settle into the “new normal,” the HSD thanks its students, parents and staff for their understanding, patience and flexibility in the days ahead. Most importantly, each and every student, whether learning in-school or learning remotely at home, is wished a successful and happy new school year.
—Submitted by the Hicksville School District