We continue to be deeply involved in planning for a Return to School in September. A full plan will be presented to our Board of Education at the July 29 meeting and communicated to our school community by July 31. While there are still many decisions to be made, I want to share with you some additional elements to assist you in your decision-making. Please bear in mind that our district plan is subject to additional input and approval from the local Department of Health and the NJ Department of Education.
The most important elements of our plan for you to be aware of at this time include:
- The district will follow a Week A/Week B model with Fridays reserved for virtual instruction for most students. We are working to place students into cohorts, placing a high priority on keeping families on the same schedule.
- Full day Preschool students will attend split AM/PM sessions Monday through Friday every week.
- Half-day Preschool will be held, and we are monitoring class sizes to understand whether these students will meet daily or follow a Week A/Week B model.
- Additional information for parents of special education students and English Language Learners will be forthcoming. Currently, we are planning for elementary Language/Learning Disabled and Multiply Disabled classes to be held as AM/PM split sessions Monday through Friday every week, and for middle and high school self-contained special education classes to meet for a full day Monday through Friday every week. These schedules are still being discussed.
- Kindergarten students will begin classes with the Week A/Week B model beginning September 14. Individual orientation meetings (one parent, child, and Kindergarten teacher) will be scheduled for the week of September 8.
We will implement physical spacing measures in classrooms, hallways, and other common spaces. Additionally, we will build in time during the day for handwashing, age-appropriate mask ‘breaks’ and snack times, and other measures. Although we will strive to create 3-6 feet of social distancing space whenever possible, unless a student has a documented medical condition that precludes the use of face coverings, all students and staff are required wear masks in the buildings or on a bus at all times.
Soon, we will ask parents to identify whether their child will be attending school, learning entirely remotely, and utilizing a school bus so that school principals can prepare their classrooms and buildings. Here are some additional steps you can take now to prepare your family and your child for a return to school.
- Purchase a thermometer. We are required to develop a policy regarding daily health screenings for all students. We are working through the particulars of this, and it will likely involve parents confirming each morning that their child is free from all symptoms of illness – including fever.
- Purchase or make several well fitted, comfortable, washable cloth face masks. Your child will need a clean face mask daily.
- Work on building mask stamina with your children. Our Saturday morning cartoon super-heroes wear masks, and so will our staff and students. This is one of the most important steps we can take for everyone’s safety. The more you and your child wear their masks, the more comfortable they will be wearing them for extended periods.
- Continue to be positive and reinforce healthy habits with your family. Our children take their cues on how to handle challenging situations from the adults in their lives. If you are pragmatic and calm about this, so will your children be.
You will hear from me next week with additional information. In the meantime, have a wonderful weekend and keep up the terrific parenting!
Dr. Barbara Sargent
Superintendent of Schools