HVAC technology, thermal temp scanners, disinfection and contact free processes to keep Holmdel students safe. Legislation to keep schools closed by Assemblywoman Joan Downey called out (audio)
HOLMDEL, NJ - The Holmdel Township Board of Education has announced the much anticipated tentative plans for the reopening of the township’s schools on September 14th.
At the July 29th Board of Ed meeting, board members detailed a plan that would set the township’s schools up with a hybrid model for students to alternate days spent in the classroom.
“As with most districts, we are taking a really hard look at what is called an A-B schedule, where half of the students come in one day, A, and the other half of the students come in on the second day, which is B,” said Interim Superintendent of Schools Dr. Lee Seitz.
Seitz explained that in order to both open normally and successfully observe social distancing practices, Holmdel schools would need to operate at between 70 and 75 percent of capacity, which would be “next to impossible.” The board had previously searched for vacant or unused buildings within the township to use as temporary schools, but none were available.
The new hybrid model will consist of 4-hour long school days, according to Seitz and board members, which will allow teachers to provide extra help and office hours after classes end. Average class sizes will be reduced by half, averaging between 12-15 students per classroom. Students not present in the classroom will be able to watch a live stream of the lesson, providing all students with the same content at the same time. Since June, the district has added several notable software programs that are expected to aid in virtual learning, Seitz said.
The plan differs when it comes to self-contained and resource students, however. Board members revealed that they are aiming for these students to attend in-person classes four, or possibly five days a week. The reasoning behind this strategy is that these students depend more on in face-to-face instruction than others. The Board is currently working out the logistics of this, and expects to have a more specific formula before the reopening plan is officially proposed on August 12.
The Holmdel Board of Education-sponsored Prime Time program, a before and after care program at both Village and Indian Hill Schools will also be proceeding in the fall, between the hours of 7:00 am and 9:00 am, and 3:45 pm and 6:00 pm. Board members explained that this is possible due to the need for childcare, as well as the fact that children will mostly be cared for outdoors and in large, spread out rooms such as cafetoriums.
To further the battle against COVID-19, Board member Eileen Briamonte highlighted new infrastructure being introduced in Holmdel schools. New installations include but are not limited to: UV-C lighting for disinfection purposes, new bipolar ionization filtration systems within existing HVAC systems, thermal temperature detection devices at entryways, and hands-free automatic soap and paper towel dispensers.
At one point during the meeting, recent legislation sponsored by Assemblywoman Joan Downey was brought up. Downey is trying to pass a much publicized law to keep schools shut to returning students and would force all students to stay remote except for special needs students. Board member Terence Wall called her proposal 'legislatively incoherent.' You can listen to the entire audio of the meeting HERE (Wall's comments can be heard at about 22:30).
Parents who opt to have their children learn completely virtually will be accommodated as well, the Board said. Preparations are also being made for the possibility of another statewide school closure, in the event that a bill proposed by Democratic state lawmakers gains traction. The bill, introduced July 29th, proposes that New Jersey schools remain all-remote through October. Board members expressed their desire to reopen in September, but stated they are preparing for all scenarios.
Seitz specifically thanked school faculty for their hard work over the past several months, noting that it has not been easy for anyone.
“Virtual is challenging, but we have a wonderful staff here, and I’m really confident that when we give them the resources and the time that they'll run with it and we’ll have a substantially better program in the fall than we did last spring,” Seitz said.
Vicky Flynn, Board President, expressed excitement at the prospect of reopening schools in the fall, and assured residents and parents that the district is proceeding with caution.
“Everyone here is so focused on safety, I don't see how it can’t happen,” she said, “…we want to add some normalcy to what is an abnormal situation.”
The Holmdel Board of Education will officially propose plans for reopening of schools at the August 12th Board meeting.
You can listen to the meeting in its entirety HERE