Passi updates Manhasset’s COVID-19 school protocols

Passi updates Manhasset’s COVID-19 school protocols
Superintendent Gaurav Passi provided an update on the district's new faculty and coronavirus safety protocols two weeks ago. (Photo courtesy of Manhasset Public Schools)


The Manhasset school board held a meeting Aug. 25 to discuss what the school year will look like for 2022-2023.

The meeting began with Superintendent Dr. Gaurav Passi welcoming the 12 new faculty members to the district who are starting this year.

“Over the course of three days, our new teachers met with building and district officials, they took a bus tour of Manhasset, they engaged in a session on effective teaching practices led by Kim Marshall, heard a student panel and met with veteran teachers,” Passi said. “The thing that struck me both about the new teacher orientation and the administrative retreat is that we have been fortunate to really attract a strong group of new educators and I’m really excited to see their work throughout the school year.”

Then Passi discussed the new Covid-19 protocols for the school year from the New York Department of Health. The district is no longer required to quarantine close contacts, do contact tracing, report the number of positive cases to the department of health or test unvaccinated teachers.


They will, however, continue to make classroom-level notifications of any positive Covid-19 case in the elementary school. Passi pointed out that these guidelines conflict with the safety plan that the district has in place. “When what is written in the plan conflicts with guidance, we follow the guidance,” he said.

Announcements on the progress of the summer construction were also made at the meeting. According to Passi, the Northwest field is ready for play, the back elementary school parking lot is repaved and the water main and sidewalk project is complete.

The Shelter Rock kindergarten playground has been removed and the school is still awaiting a new playground. Additionally, the first shipment of the kindergarten classroom furniture has arrived and the rest is in the warehouse and should be delivered by the time school starts.

Passi also announced that there will be a new pre-K program in Manhasset. The district was given $540,000 by the governor to offer free pre-K in Manhasset. However, there are no buildings available to use, so the district is inviting preschools in Nassau County and Queens to offer spots to Manhasset residents at $5,400 per student that will be funded by the district.

“It’s a great opportunity for us to provide preschool free of charge to community residents,” Passi said.

Finally, a topic that has been under much debate was discussed: whether or not Zoom participation will be allowed in future school board meetings.

Since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, school board meetings have been live-streamed and held with a Zoom participation option for residents who do not feel comfortable or who are unable to attend the meetings in person. However, the board has decided that they no longer want to include that as an option.

It has been determined that the meetings will continue to be live-streamed, but there will be no public comment via Zoom. “That’s the general consensus and that’s how we will proceed after this meeting,” Passi said.

During the public comment portion of the meeting, a few residents had complaints about the change. Over Zoom, resident Andrew Parson asked the board to provide “a single reason why this purely optional service does anything but good for this community,” he said. “Here is the board deciding that transparency is a one-way street. Please reconsider your actions.”

Kristine Monterosso, a resident of Manhasset, also pointed out that the equipment has already been bought and the technicians already hired, so the district would not have a negative financial impact from continuing Zoom participation.

“I have yet to hear a single opinion from the public and any board member to hear what the downside is of a Zoom option,” said another resident, who also asked the board to explain their reasoning as to why they would be discontinuing Zoom participation. The board did not respond and ended the meeting.

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