WARETOWN, NJ - Ocean Township Board of Education President Shawn Denning said Thursday night he believes that the PreK- 6 district plans will fully reopen in September with in-class instruction. Board members will vote on the proposed course of action at their meeting on Monday evening.  Denning clarified today that the board is actually considering three options. Their decision will take into consideration results of a survey sent out to parents.

Denning made the announcement at the Ocean Township Committee's first in-person meeting since social distancing caused many government entities to conduct sessions by virtual access.

The district sent out surveys to parents and expects their return by this Friday. According to Denning, the questions are geared to gauging the comfort levels of families concerning reopening of the schools. The district may consider developing a plan of full remote access for parents who do not want their children to return to the classroom.

Sign Up for Barnegat/Waretown Newsletter
Our newsletter delivers the local news that you can trust.

“We value that our number one job is to educate," said Denning. “We need to make sure the parents are going to send their kids to school as we make these plans."

School districts throughout the state have taken different approaches to reopening. Some are going totally remote. Districts, like Barnegat, are working on a hybrid plan of integrating in-classroom instruction with virtual learning. The Southern Regional School District has decided to go all in and open fully in September.  Students from Ocean Township attend Southern Regional Schools when they begin the seventh grade.

"We are in a unique situation in our district," Denning shared. "We have young children, where wearing a mask may prove to be difficult. There is also no real evidence that says that young children are significantly affected or that they even transmit the virus."

Denning said the district is examining policies and strategies to assess sick children. He also shared other ideas as far as illness in general. Anyone with a fever is currently not permitted to come back to school for 24 hours. The board may expand guidelines in compliance with the CDC for at least an additional two days.

"We are going to encourage students and staff members to get flu vaccines," said Denning. "We don't want people to be sick. If they're sick - we're going to assume they have COVID."

Board members are all researching the best way to proceed on behalf of the district. Denning acknowledged that on the one hand, there was the issue of health concerns.

"We also don't want students to have a bad educational outcome because we were too conservative," Denning stressed.

Monday night's Board of Education will return to a virtual format for one last time on Monday evening.  In addition to discussing reopening plans, board members will partake in a presentation regarding next year's goals.