I hope this letter finds you enjoying happy times with your children. We celebrated the graduating seniors at outdoor ceremonies this week and it was bittersweet to see the students one last time. What a blessing it was to be able to gather them together one last time before they head out into the world.
With the release of the 104-page guidance for the reopening of schools, The Road Back: Restart and Recovery Plan for Education, from the NJ Department of Education and Governor Murphy’s directive that schools will re-open in September, we have begun the extensive planning necessary to re-open school. A district-level Return to School Committee and School Teams have been established with representation from a cross-section of our school community. Our guiding priorities in this important work include:
- Protect to the greatest degree possible the health and well-being of students and staff;
- Provide instructional consistency and sound practice;
- Be sustainable in each of these key areas – –
- School community health
- Teaching and learning
We will share a plan with the Board of Education at the July 29 meeting and with the broader school community by July 31. In addition to the guidance provided by the NJ Department of Education, we also are carefully reviewing recommendations from the CDC, the World Health Organization, and the American Academy of Pediatrics as we develop a Return to School plan.
At this time, we expect to stagger student attendance, with half of the students attending one week while the other half participate in online instruction from home. This would flip the following week. Fridays will have a special schedule with the potential for a completely virtual learning day and/or special instruction occurring for certain students. We will strongly consider the unique needs of special student populations, especially our special education students and English Language Learners. We are committed to keeping families on the same schedule and will also work with families who wish to remain entirely with remote learning.
I recognize that anything less than a full return to school presents hardships for families. We will monitor conditions continually and implement modifications – which may include more consistent attendance or, more likely, a return to full distance learning – as health conditions warrant. We are in the initial phases of planning and there are many more decisions to be made and communicated.
Please know that we care deeply about ensuring that the start of the school year is a positive, safe, and comfortable experience for you and your children. It won’t look like most Septembers, but we are doing our best to honor all that makes school a nurturing and engaging academic place.
Wishing you well,
Barbara Sargent, Ed.D.
Superintendent of Schools