We are “creating the new normal,” Superintendent Dr. Nicholas Stirling says. As his schools closed this spring, Valley Stream 30 in Nassau County, New York, phased in its response. The first two weeks, “phase one,” recognized that “everyone would be dealing with the fear and the anxiety, the emotional impact of what we’re being put through.” During that time the district focused on figuring out which families didn’t have computer devices and Internet and making sure they got them. “We were very conscious about the fact that not only our families but our teachers were also having to adjust. They, too, were being asked to work from home, take care of their families, take care of themselves, and remain emotionally stable through all of this.”

In phase two, instruction began to be provided by grade level and Google Classroom was introduced. First came English and math and gradually social studies, science, the arts, and special services were added. Phase three brought individual classroom work and the addition of special services, including speech therapy and reading support.

Building the educational system in phases, every couple of weeks, Stirling says, helped them ensure that “we were not leaving anybody out.” So, for example, they can’t teach every grade at the same time, because children in different grades need to share computers. The district has established an instructional schedule to ensure that every student is served.

In this podcast, hear how the leader of Valley Stream 30, a school district in one of the epicenters of the pandemic, is attending to equity and ensuring that it is flexible enough to meet the students where they are in September, wherever they are.

To learn more about Valley Stream 30, listen to episode 6 of season 2 of ExtraOrdinary Districts.