LIVINGSTON, NJ — Although this week’s Livingston Board of Education (LBOE) meeting was postponed due to widespread power outages that would have impacted the community’s ability to access the webinar, the district still released details about reopening plans for the fall that would have been presented during the meeting.
Recognizing that this information is extremely important to Livingston Public Schools (LPS) stakeholders, Superintendent of Schools Dr. Matthew Block shared the plans via Email to all LPS families in order to provide optimal time for them to review the drafted plans prior to the Aug. 10 board meeting. Members of the public will have an opportunity to comment on the reopening plans during Monday’s LBOE meeting.
In his letter to the LPS community, Block reiterated that the information provided was only an overview of the reopening plan rather than the fully detailed plan for the 2020-2021 school year. He also reminded the community that these plans “represent [the district’s] best intentions at this time” but are subject to alterations between now and the start of classes on Sept. 8 according to the rapidly changing state of the COVID-19 pandemic.
As of Aug. 5, the LPS district plans to establish a “hybrid instructional model” that blends virtual and in-person learning experiences for students, who will be split into alphabetical “cohorts” for partial-day instruction as seen in the photos above. Per Gov. Phil Murphy’s executive order mandating that all New Jersey schools offer families the ability to select an “all-virtual” model, the current plan also allows this option for all LPS students.
According to Block, the specific details of the all-virtual model are still in the process of being formulated.
“In a hybrid model, all students will be remote at one time or another, and students who are fully remote will be able to connect with their classmates,” the superintendent wrote in his overview of the plan. “Students who are fully remote will receive a combination of synchronous lessons delivered by the teacher and asynchronous online lessons. Students will also be able to access their teachers for assistance and support during scheduled ;office hour times.’”
Additionally, the LPS district is taking a “staged approach” to reopening in order to allow educators and students the opportunity to practice new routines and adjust to the new school environment.
“We will begin the year in a hybrid model consisting of smaller cohorts of students in-person, paired with at-home students with enhanced virtual learning experiences,” said Block. “With continuous reflection on our early experiences with reopening, we will look to strategically grow our in-person time in stages.”
Based on medical guidance and the current recommendations for physical distancing, Block also indicated that face coverings and classroom spacing will “provide the best opportunity to have a safe return for both students and staff.” All students and staff will be required to wear masks throughout the instructional day both inside the classroom and during transit in the building.
Parents are expected to provide masks for their children, although the school will provide a mask for any child who arrives to school without one.
According to the sample schedule provided earlier this week, middle school and high school students will learn in person for one day each week, with Livingston High School students being dismissed at 12:10 p.m. and students of Heritage and Mt. Pleasant Middle Schools being dismissed at 12:55 p.m. The remainder of the afternoon will be used for independent student work time and teacher office hours by appointment only.
After student dismissal each day, lunch will be provided to students who receive free and reduced lunch. Pick-up locations and times for lunches will be sent to families who qualify for this service prior to the first day of school.
Middle and high school students will receive instruction in four classes for five consecutive days each week, alternating between their morning and afternoon classes every other week. Wednesdays have been identified as all-remote days for the middle and high schools, with the exception of weeks that include a holiday. See the photos above for a sample schedule.
Elementary schools will also operate on a partial-day schedule with students split into two cohorts that will alternate between two days and three days of onsite instruction each week. (Siblings within the elementary schools will be on the same schedule, according to LPS.)
All students will attend in-person school two days in a row, with “Cohort A” attending school in person on Monday and Tuesday most weeks and “Cohort B” attending in person on Wednesday and Thursday. The remaining day will rotate between the two cohorts. The sample schedule above details both the in-person and remote learning days for students.
“Students and staff will need time to adjust to new routines, behavioral expectations and classroom practices,” said Block. “Students will also need to increase endurance for mask-wearing for extended periods of time (now required), particularly in warm weather. Beginning the year with a half-day, in-person program will provide the best opportunity for a successful transition to new expectations.”
According to the district, the current plan is to re-open schools in phases—beginning with mostly remote instruction in the first month and increasing in-person days with each new phase.
Additional details about this first phase—including information about health and safety measures, transportation, facility logistics and more—can be found BY CLICKING HERE.
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