Springs School officials have concluded that the district is short four classrooms to be able to bring all students back while maintaining social distancing and keeping class sizes reasonable. The situation was discussed during Monday's virtual school board meeting, which was plagued by technical difficulties.
The current $23 million construction project was conceived and approved well before the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, and while crews are busy adding several classrooms and lab space, school officials have realized it is not enough, given the impact of the virus.
Debra Winter, the school superintendent, said on Tuesday that the district considered bringing in a trailer for temporary classrooms, but it was "too large" and "too costly," the campus lacked enough space, and the State Education Department would have to approve it — a lengthy process. Tents to accommodate four classrooms are also cost-prohibitive, would lack restrooms, and there are safety issues, Ms. Winter said.
The school board on Monday also approved spending approximately $58,800 this summer on sod for the new athletic field, which school officials say will expedite more outdoor recreation space for students after school starts in September, particularly while much of the campus is undergoing construction. The alternative was to grow natural grass, which would have taken longer, officials said.
"After all the things they lost, this is important," Ms. Winter said.
Springs has also hired Enviroscience to provide a consultant on matters of health, safety, and facilities for students and staff. "In response to Covid-19, the district wants to ensure all health and safety cleaning and disinfecting protocols are compliant with C.D.C. and Department of Health guidance," Ms. Winter said.
The consultant, Stephanie Popky, is a retired plant and facilities director who was with the Comsewogue School District in Port Jefferson Station and who was a president of the Suffolk County Superintendent of Buildings and Grounds Association. Ms. Popky is to report to Springs administrators on a weekly basis and provide monthly updates to the school board and training for the custodial crew in coordination with Dan Newman, the chief custodian.