While a new school year always presents challenges and opportunities, the COVID-19 pandemic is taking that old adage to a new level. But when J. Taylor Finley Middle School reopens for classes on Wednesday, September 9 it will be as prepared as possible to navigate through a particularly difficult period in history.
Like schools across the state and country, Finley has been closed since mid-March when students went into a remote learning mode of education. Huntington UFSD officials have been preparing to reopen for several months, putting in place a vast array of modifications to the traditional way of operating.
J. Taylor Finley Middle School Principal Traci Roethel
During this first phase of reopening, Finley students have been placed into four separate cohorts. Cohort No. 1, consisting of those with last names beginning with a letter from A and D will attend school for in-person classes on Tuesdays. Cohort No. 2 (Letters E to K) will be in classrooms on Wednesdays. Cohort No. 3 (Letters L to Ret) will attend school on Thursdays and Cohort No. 4 (Letter Rev to Z) will be in classrooms on Fridays. Cohorts will attend classes at Finley on Mondays on a rotating basis during each month.
Students in 15:1:1 and 12:1:3 special education settings will attend in-person each day.
When not in classes at Finley, students are expected to log-in to each class during distance learning according to their schedules. Students who have opted for exclusively remote learning will follow their schedules online and will not report to the building.
“No one could have predicted that schools would be shut down last spring and students would finish their school year from home with remote learning,” wrote Finley Principal Traci Roethel in a letter to parents. “I know how important it is for students to come back to school to continue their education, but I also know the importance of our students’ safety and well-being.”
COVID-19 Safety Protocols
Students will be expected to wear masks at all times, including on the bus, with the exception of their lunch period and designated mask breaks. Students may wear their own masks as long as it is a fitted mask that covers both mouth and nose. Neck gaiters, bandanas or similar items are not considered suitable replacements.
Students taking a bus to school will enter through the front doors of the building while parents who drive their children to school will drop them off by the back gym doors. Security will be there to assist parents as needed.
“It is important that students do not come to school if they feel ill,” Mrs. Roethel said. “Students will walk through an infrared temperature scanner before entering the building. If a student feels ill at any point, they will be sent to the nurse for an assessment and their parents will be immediately notified if a student needs to be picked up.”
Class schedules have been posted to the parent and student portals. Schedule changes will not be made unless there is an error or to balance class size. To access schedules, students and parents must log-in to the parent portal from the district website. Those unable to access their account should contact the Finley guidance office at (631) 673-2022.
Classrooms will have desks spaced six feet apart with barriers. Lockers will not be used, so students need to bring their backpacks and belongings with them to each class period. Teachers will be using Google Classroom as their main platform, which students can access through Clever.
All students should bring their Chromebook devices to and from school each day fully charged. It is the student’s responsibility to use it properly in accordance with the district rules. Students will be using this device to complete their distance learning at home.
Mrs. Roethel will send a weekly message to parents on Sunday nights via e-mail. Parents should supply the school with their current e-mail address.
Orientation for Seventh Graders
An orientation for seventh graders is scheduled for Wednesday, September 2. Each student and one parent is invited to attend according to the schedule below:
9:00 a.m. – 9:45 a.m. Cohort 1 (A-D)
10:15 a.m. – 11:00 a.m. Cohort 2 (E-K)
11:30 a.m. – 12:15 p.m. Cohort 3 (L-Ret)
12:45 p.m. – 1:30 p.m. Cohort 4 (Rey – Z)
“We ask that students attend during their scheduled time to keep the number of people in the building at a safe level,” Mrs. Roethel said. “Students will be allowed to walk through the building to help locate their classes for the first day of school. Students and parents are expected to wear masks and maintain social distancing during the orientation.”