By Jodee Riordan
Lewiston-Porter Board of Education President
Things have escalated very quickly since I last wrote this column, and much more may change by the time you read this.
All schools are closed until further notice, yet we will continue to be the center of this community. We are doing everything in our power to provide for the education of our students and for the well-being of all in our community.
This crisis may get worse before it gets better, but we will get through it. We will get through it together.
Superintendent Paul Casseri is leading our response. He is in frequent communication with county and state health officials and working closely with our neighboring superintendents. He is communicating directly to our school community through both email and robocall messages on a regular basis. Please visit our website (https://www.lew-port.com/) for current updates and notifications. We will continue to push out information via all our established communication channels (email, Seesaw, Google classroom, social media).
While schools are closed, we want our students to continue learning. Instruction looks different at each grade level: Students in K-2 were provided hardcopy packets of work from their teachers, as were all students who preferred this medium in grades 3-12. Generally speaking, students in K-3 have access to Seesaw for learning electronically and students in 4-12 use Google Classroom.
Though our district is 1:1 for all our students, only our students in 8-12 traditionally take home their devices. We made it possible for all students in grades 3-12 to take Chromebooks home to use for learning during this unexpected school closure. Teachers and principals are dedicated to being available to students and their families who have questions.
For the duration of the closure, please utilize email for communication. Visit our website for contact information, follow the following channels:
•Instructional concern: classroom teacher, building principal
•Special education concerns: Dr. Barbara Godshall, director of special education
•BOCES Career & Technical Education instructional concern: Contact CTE directly: www.onboces.org.
All athletic facilities, including the fitness center, are closed until further notice. Athletic Director Brad Halgash will be in contact with coaches, who in turn will contact their teams. As of now, all events and practices are canceled. Students are not allowed to practice, including informal captain’s practices.
Community education courses are postponed until the district reopens. We are working with instructors to reschedule new class dates wherever possible. Refunds will be available when necessary. Thank you for your support of the community education program, and for allowing time to work through these details.
With so many concerns at this time, our children going hungry will not be one.
The Lewiston-Porter Central District is committed to providing all students with meals unless we are advised otherwise. We will have a grab-and-go meals assembled for every child under the age of 18.
The grab-and-go bags will consist of two meals (breakfast and lunch), as long as we have the resources to provide for both meals. Please be patient as we work through the logistics of this very important service. The process will likely evolve during the days and weeks ahead.
As of Wednesday, March 18:
•Meals will be available at the Lewiston-Porter High School main entrance, Monday-Friday. We ask that families follow these time guidelines (when possible) to avoid crowding and traffic issues: last names A-M, 9-10 a.m.; last names N-Z, 10-11 a.m. Families who do not have a way to pick up meals should email Dr. Patti Grupka ([email protected]) to make other arrangements.
•As of Monday, March 23, by the direction of an executive order from Gov. Andrew Cuomo, the Lewiston-Porter Central School District is partnering with the Buffalo Niagara YMCA to provide free child care for medical workers and first responders while schools are closed due to COVID-19 (coronavirus).
Cuomo signed Executive Order 202.4, directing all school districts to develop a plan for child care “for children of parents in the health care profession or first responders who are critical to the response effort.”
“Every district will be required to submit a plan to ensure children of health care workers and first responders have access to child care so these closures do not strain our hospitals,” Cuomo said in a statement.
Child care will be provided from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday for children of eligible workers age 3-12 at the Lewiston-Porter Primary Education Center beginning Monday, March 23. Eligible workers are medical workers and first responders who are the parents, guardians or primary caregivers of children age 3 to 12.
To register for the service, please contact the Lockport Family Branch YMCA at 716-434-8887 or email Brigid Dillman, office manager, at [email protected] between the hours of 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.
For any child currently enrolled in the YMCA School Age Child Care program, the registration form will be reviewed at the time of registration. For new enrollment, a child care registration form must be completed prior to attendance. Please contact the YMCA if your child requires medication or has allergies to review requirements for care. Program hours are 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Children should bring a change of clothes; lunch and snack is provided.
Upon confirmation that the individual is a medical worker or first responder, the YMCA will provide additional information and instructions. The YMCA may be contacted with any questions.
For first responders and medical personnel with infants, we have partnered with WEE Care Daycare located at the Lewiston-Porter District Office building to support child care. For more information and registration, please call 716-754-2667.