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Expanded Pre-K Program Debuts at Northeast

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Amityville’s new full-day pre-kindergarten program officially launched on Sept. 16, as teachers and support staff welcomed children to Northeast Elementary School.

As a result of the grade reconfiguration this summer, kindergarten classes moved to Northwest Elementary School, and Northeast became an early childhood education center. There are 10 full-day pre-K classes, with about 120 students enrolled in the program. 

On the first day, teachers welcomed their first group of students, gave them tours of the school, reviewed classroom rules and health and safety protocols and read stories in the garden. Children were all given individual boxes of supplies and materials with items such as blocks, crayons and Play-Doh.

Principal Dr. Pauline Collins visited the classrooms throughout the day and introduced herself to Amityville’s youngest students. She said that the expansion of pre-K to six hours per day will be a tremendous benefit for children, noting how much development takes place between birth and age 5. 

“This is a great opportunity for the children,” Dr. Collins said. “We can give them the time they need to become engaged in learning and socialization and build up their skills.”

Dr. Collins said that independent exploration is an important part of the pre-K program where children learn to play and learn through play. Classrooms have been designed with centers that foster curiosity, discovery and interaction with their peers. While those interactions will be different this year due to health and safety protocols during the COVID-19 pandemic, Dr. Collins said that pre-K will still be a meaningful and productive year in their development.

“We will find safe ways for them to do it,” Dr. Collins said.

Children are required to wear masks, but will have supervised mask breaks with social distancing practiced during those times. Art, music and physical education classes for now are being held in the pre-K classrooms. 

Meal Program Supports Families During Pandemic

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The Amityville Union Free School District’s meal program has provided a valuable service to the community throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, with more than 100,000 meals having been served through mid-July.

The grab-and-go breakfast and lunch program provides families with nutritious meals through safe delivery. Meals are pre-packaged by the district’s food service workers at Edmund W. Miles Middle School and Northeast Elementary School, and available for pickup Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to noon. Saturday and Sunday meals are provided on Fridays, and deliveries are offered to families experiencing illness or with no transportation. 

Assistant Business Administrator Christine Kim said that the meals meet all nutritional guidelines and include items such as fresh fruits and vegetables. Frozen meals are also available because they can be kept longer. 

Ms. Kim said the same members of the kitchen staff that provide nutritious lunches to students during the school year have been working hard to ready meals for the community. They prepare all food with gloves, wear masks and maintain social distancing.

“The staff has been amazing,” she said. “They have not skipped a beat and they continue on because this is an essential program offered to our community.”

At the vestibules of the two buildings, where food is placed for pickup, tables are cleaned multiple times each day and hand sanitizer stations are available. Only one family may enter the space at a time.

In addition to the meal program, Amityville has also partnered with several other agencies, community organizations and businesses to supply additional items for families. Island Harvest provides food once a week at the pickup sites, including perishable items such as meat and bread, and non-perishable goods such as canned vegetables and baby food. The Park Avenue Grill donated family meals and the Amityville Rotary Club supported the meal program with a $500 donation.

The Amityville Kiwanis Club donated $500 in grocery gift cards to help district families as well as 500 coloring books and crayons for children. To support health and safety efforts, the district also received 600 reusable cloth masks from Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone and 400 packages of disposable masks from Promise for Hope.
Sunday, September 20, 2020