Dear Parents/Guardians, Staff and Community,
This message is a follow up to our announcement yesterday. First, I would like to acknowledge that the District’s message yesterday was brief, but the decision to move all students to only virtual instruction for the opening of school was crucial and we wanted to notify you of our decision as soon as possible. Today’s message is meant to explain the reasons for the decision and to clarify what virtual only will mean for students and parents in September.
As a District, we have been working diligently since the Governor’s mandate was announced on June 29, 2020. Once released, we were compelled to create a plan that would bring our students and staff back to school in September in person and be able to maintain the health and safety for all. This included incorporating the multi-page guidance from the NJDOE, NJDOH, and the CDC. With a student population of approximately 8600, this was a daunting task but we proceeded to work tirelessly to create a plan.
The health and safety issues dictated a rotating hybrid instruction model. This required additional technology for students.
As time moved on and planning continued, it became obvious that the following items were concerns that were still unresolved. Below were the major issues that led to our decision to delay the opening of school:
- With only 11 work days prior to the opening of school, we were faced with 200 staff members inquiring or requesting leaves of absence or accommodations.
- The percentage of students who were moving from an in-person instruction model continued to change on a daily basis and the percentages of parents selecting virtual only for their children rose from 24% to 41% in a matter of days.
- The A,B,C cohort model for the HS dictated additional technology needs and the district planned for a BYOD (Bring your own device) model. This modification requires an update to our software and hardware and at this time, those items have not been received. This will all necessitate time to update our infrastructure.
- Additionally, more time will be necessary to train staff members for instruction, health, safety, and technology.
Simply said, the district made the determination to delay in-person instruction to allow for time to address these issues along with the many smaller ones. Please understand that this decision was not easy, since as educators, we know that in-person instruction is the most optimal learning environment for children; however, we must ensure an orderly and safe opening of school.
We would like to reassure you that we have learned quite a bit from last year’s experience. We agree that a change is essential, and teachers will be providing daily, live, explicit instruction from their classrooms unless they have accommodations. Students will be meeting in real-time with teachers, and attendance will be taken daily.
To be clear, our virtual model will include:
- Daily live, explicit instruction paired with recorded lessons, independent practice, and/or application of new learning.
- Students will be required to attend live sessions daily with teachers and participate in learning.
- Full remote only scheduled start and end times for all grade levels - 4.5 hours each day
- 8:30 a.m. - 1:00 p.m. (includes all subject areas)
- 1:00 p.m. - 2:00 p.m. Lunch for teachers
- 2:00 p.m. - 3:00 p.m. - Staff Professional Development
We are beginning the year with 4.5 hours of instruction to allow for staff health and safety training. If we continue virtual beyond October 9th, all schools will have full days of instruction (Pre-K and Kindergarten - half day)
We appreciate the feedback that our school community provides and understand how challenging this reality has been for so many families. As a district, our primary goal remains to provide students with meaningful opportunities to learn and grow, regardless of the schooling model, within the safest environment that we can create.
There will be additional information provided soon.