BRICK – The school administration has been working on developing possible school restart plans, and have created a few models as starting points based off virtual learning survey data that was distributed at the end of the school year, which was matched with Governor Phil Murphy’s most recent guidance, said Superintendent of Schools Thomas Farrell during the July 16 Board of Education meeting.
The Governor’s 104-page “The Road Back: Restart and Recovery Plan for Education” may be viewed online. The governor was also releasing guidelines for remote instruction.
“This mandates some form of in-person delivery of instruction with specific guidelines and minimum standards for September,” Farrell said. “This document states that ‘Absent a shift in the public health data, school buildings will be open in some capacity for in-person instruction and operations in the fall.’”
It will include necessary limitations to protect the health and safety of students and staff, the superintendent said.
Some of the guidelines include those for transportation capacity limits, required wearing of masks, health screenings, temperature taking, and more, he said.
“Under these guidelines, Brick would be unable to educate 100 percent of our student population in person at one time,” he said.
Each school building is in the process of creating its own pandemic team, headed by the principal, to ensure a safe restart of the district, Farrell said.
The superintendent shared some of the “big picture” planning process for the upcoming school year, which has not been finalized. Several models have been explored, he added.
The majority of parents, some 62 percent, said they would prefer a hybrid model whereby students would have a mix of virtual learning and in-person instruction. Half of the student population would attend school on Monday and Wednesday, and the other half would attend school on Tuesday and Thursday.
This schedule would rotate with alternating days with virtual learning, and everyone would have virtual learning on Fridays, Farrell said.
Siblings would be assigned to the same schedule across grade levels and buildings, he added.
Also, the superintendent said he anticipates that Pre-K, multiple disabilities (MD) classes and specialized programming classes would be in-person, Monday through Thursday if it could be logistically managed.
“Several models have been explored administratively,” he said. “This model provides for Brick schools to prioritize the health and safety of our staff and students, while at the same time meet – and in many cases, exceed – the State and CDC guidelines.”
The full plan will be communicated by the first week of August, as required, Farrell said.
The superintendent urged parents to email questions to the Restart email address developed for each school which would help to develop a FAQ sheet to prepare parents and staff for the finalized plan.
State requirements for wearing masks would require staff to wear them at all times, and also for anyone visiting the school, said Director of Planning, Research and Evaluation Susan McNamara.
Students will have to wear masks as they enter and exit the buildings, when they’re in the hallways, when they’re leaving to go out to a recess area or physical education.
When students are outside the building and engaging in physical activity, as long as they’re moving, they may lower their masks.
“The minute they stop, the mask has to go back on,” she said. “In terms of the classrooms, we’re doing our very best to create that social distancing, however, in those classrooms that are too small to make that happen, those students will have to wear masks all day.”
The next Board of Education meeting will be on Thursday, Aug. 13 at 7 p.m.