On June 18, 2020, Dr. Dennis P. O’Hara, Ed., Superintendent of Schools, published an end of year message.
In his message, Dr. O’Hara writes that September 19, 2019 seems like a lifetime ago. Dr. O’Hara recalls that March 12, 2020 was the last time students were in Hauppauge schools, as well as that the Hauppauge School District shut their building doors on March 14, 2020 without any idea of when everyone would return. Dr. O’Hara remembers how the Hauppauge School District distributed Chrome books and devices, made plans to provide meals and childcare for district residents in need, and moved quickly to establish distance learning protocols and procedures that enabled meaningful instruction to take place in an ever-changing landscape.
Dr. O’Hara states that he is proud of the work that the Hauppauge School District has accomplished during this school closure, which he claims to know was made possible by the spirit of teamwork inherent to Hauppauge. Dr. O’Hara extends his thanks to Hauppauge students for their hard work, as well as the grace they showed while the Hauppauge School District navigated uncharted territory.
Dr. O’Hara informed the Class of 2020 that the Hauppauge School District remains committed to celebrating their commencement. He states that the Hauppauge School District looks forward to honoring the Class of 2020 on July 24, 2020, which has been previously explained by Hauppauge High School Principal, Chris Cook.
Dr. O’Hara thanks the Hauppauge School District’s teachers for working to deliver instruction in an entirely new fashion with almost no prior notice. He also states parents are owed a thank you for their support and patience in recent months. Additionally, Dr. O’Hara thanks the Hauppauge School District’s Board of Education for staying focused on the best interests of the Hauppauge School District’s students, the sustainability of important programs, and the long-term stability of the Hauppauge School District.
Regarding the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, MN and how people have responded around the world (including as close as Routes 347 and 111), Dr. O’Hara states that he knows the Hauppauge School District’s faculty, staff, and administrators will join him in reassuring all students and their families that Hauppauge schools are safe, welcoming places where students of all races, creeds, and religions, regardless of socio-economic status, are accepted and loved within each Hauppauge school and the surrounding Hauppauge community. Dr. O’Hara states that these challenging times present an opportunity to reinforce the ideals of unity and respect for all.
Dr. O’Hara reminds readers that COVID-19 is not yet defeated. He states that face coverings, social distancing, and hand washing all remain vitally important. Due to the insidiousness of COVID-19, Dr. O’Hara encourages readers to protect themselves by acting as if every person they have interacted with may be infected, which he believes is the best way to keep everyone safe and healthy.
Though the Hauppauge School District is grateful that their budget for the 2020-2021 school year passed, Dr. O’Hara claims Hauppauge, the Towns of Islip and Smithtown, Suffolk County, and New York State are not financially out of the woods yet. Dr. O’Hara encourages readers to continue reaching out to their representatives in Washington (both in the House and the Senate), as well as Governor Andrew Cuomo and their state representatives.
In response to expressed concerns and questions regarding what education will look like in September, Dr. O’Hara states that the Hauppauge School District does not know if lessons will be conducted in school full time, at home on distance learning, or as some type of hybrid. However, Dr. O’Hara says that the Hauppauge School District has a reopening task force that is aggressively pursuing all options while at the same time working towards providing outstanding education. As we move into July and August, Dr. O’Hara claims that the Hauppauge School District will be providing regular updates regarding these plans to the Hauppauge community, as well as will be seeking input from the entire Hauppauge school community.
Dr. O’Hara states that he is happy to share the results of the Hauppauge School District budget vote. According to Dr. O’Hara, the budget was supported and approved by an overwhelming majority that was possibly the largest margin on all of Long Island. Dr. O’Hara extends his thanks to the Hauppauge community for not only providing Hauppauge schools with support at budget time, but throughout the year. Dr. O’Hara claims that the passed budget reflects the Hauppauge community’s deeply held conviction that their students deserve the best education. Additionally, Dr. O’Hara states that the passed budget provides teachers, administrators, and staff with the resources they need to maintain a safe, healthy environment while keeping students on their current path toward higher achievement.
Dr. O’Hara concludes by saying it remains his privilege and blessing to serve as Superintendent of Schools for the Hauppauge School District. He wishes his readers a summer of health, peace, rest, and rejuvenation.
Dr. O’Hara’s full letter can be read here.