BRICK – Students in grades kindergarten through 12 will be attending full-day, five days a week, in-person school starting June 1 if they choose, or they may remain on virtual instruction.
“We’re finally here – Phase 4,” said Dr. Thomas Farrell during the May 20 Board of Education meeting.
He was referring to the state’s restart and recovery from COVID-19, called The Road Back, which provides data-driven guidelines to safeguard the public. The state entered phased-in stages based on public health indicators and compliance.
“I personally look at Phase 4 as a chance to celebrate a return to a somewhat sense of normalcy,” he said.
Further details will be provided in the near future by building principals, he added.
“Although the vast majority of our staff have been vaccinated, the vast majority of our students have not,” the superintendent said, and asked that everyone continue to be diligent and practice up-to-date protocols from the NJ Department of Education, State Department of Health and CDC.
Full-day school provides more than just academic classes, curriculum and grades, Dr. Farrell said. “Schools are a safe haven for many students who need social and emotional support, or just a friend.”
Phase 4 supports students’ mental health with opportunities for socialization, interpersonal interaction and connection between students and staff, he said.
It also helps young students develop daylong stamina, provides a jumpstart to summer and fall programming, and increases in-person academic support.
Dr. Farrell said there is a misconception that “every second of the day, students are wearing masks…but there are many, many mask breaks throughout the day.”
For example, students don’t have to wear masks while outside or while they’re eating.
That’s true, said Director of Planning, Research & Evaluation Susan McNamara.
“The only time we ask them to put them back on is if they’re sitting closely to one another and sitting still,” she said. “We know that most children, once you let them outside, don’t sit still.”
When students return to school full-time in June, some will eat lunch indoors, and some will eat outdoors to keep them spaced apart when they take their masks off to eat, she said. Masks go back on when they leave the table, she added.
Dr. Farrell said that during an end-of-the-year get-together for first-year teachers, where they talk about their “trials and tribulations…more than a few” spoke specifically about how young children are not fazed by masks.
“They do not even talk about [masks], they want to be by their friends, they want to socialize and be by their teachers, they understand when it can be on, they understand if they’re having a rough time or it’s inhibiting them, they go to the teacher or the nurse,” Dr. Farrell said.
During public comment, Nicole Quinn, the mother of a first grader, said that her son has no problem wearing a mask, and he’s just happy to be in school with his friends and teachers.
“Honestly, he barely notices it,” she said.
In other news, the school district will be offering new expanded and extended academic summer programming designed to promote learning acceleration and achievement through high-interest targeted instruction.
For more information and to register visit brickschools.org
The next Board of Education meeting will be on Thursday June 24 at 7 p.m.