BERNARDS TOWNSHIP, NJ -- The Bernards Township school district is reaching out online to survey parents, students and staff to ask how virtual educational programs are going as the district prepares for its next phase of distance learning.
The survey for parents is here, and begins by asking whether their family has adequate internet service and devices to participate in the district's ongoing distance learning program for students during the COVID-19 shutdown in New Jersey,
The district asks that one parental survey be completed per household, with additional sections to be completed for families with more than one child enrolled in the district.
Surveys are also posted on the Bernards Township website for grades 6 to 12, and for grades 3 to 5. Students must sign in to complete the surveys.
“We are writing surveys for parents, students and staff with a few questions asking about how things are going -- some open-ended opportunities and asking how they are doing with home technology,” Superintendent Nick Markarian said in an email on Wednesday.
Markarian said at Monday’s remotely convened Board of Education meeting that the district was “wrapping up Phase 2 of distance learning” and preparing for the next phase.
“We have been adding more and more curricular instruction with each phase,” he wrote in the email.
Schools across the state have been closed since March 16 as part of the social-separation strategy to blunt the Covid-19, or novel coronavirus. Governor Phil Murphy on Thursday announced that New Jersey schools would remain closed until at least May 15.
On March 30, Bernards school administrators detailed a plan for “distance learning” using the computer and Internet more extensively. Teachers were to use new strategies to present lessons, students’ work would be graded and amounts of time for study in each class were set out.
In the first two weeks of school closures, ungraded activities focused on reviewing previously learned content.
Schools are closed April 20-24 for spring break -- no school work that week -- and the district is posting optional fun activities for families for the week, Markarian wrote this week.
Attendance is taken by students’ check-in (required) at 8:30 every morning. Markarian said attendance is “very good.”
Markarian said he is not sure yet how the district will approach not sure on graduation. The district was looking at “socially distant options,” and that might be part of this week’s survey.
In the Phase 2 for Bernards students, kindergarten students and first graders should be engaged in learning activities for 60 minutes per day. Time per subject increases for each grade. Middle schoolers should be learning two and one-half hours per week per subject. High schoolers should study in each of their subjects for three hours per week; if a student has eight subjects, that would be 24 hours.
For the middle and high schools, there is a department-based A and B schedule rotation. William Annin Middle School students will study math, English, world language and their chosen elective on the ‘A’ day, and language arts, science, social studies and physical education/health on a ‘B’ day.
For Ridge High, math, English, world language and fine arts or a technology elective will convene on the ‘A’ day and business, study skills, science, social studies and physical education/health on the ‘B’ day.
Teachers will be involved in instruction and assign work that is expected to be accomplished on that A or B day, or the next such designated day. Teachers will use mini-lessons, answer student questions, have small-group meetings, monitor student participation and work and perhaps have “live” class meetings using Zoom or Google Hangout and other websites and apps.
Teachers will create videos of themselves and perhaps post them to the Internet for reference. “Others will post mini-lessons to their Google Classrooms,” reads a memo by Kristin Fox, assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction, but all teachers will be working to increase opportunities to listen and talk to students.
There will be no report card issued at the end of the third marking period, which ends this week. Instead the third and fourth marking periods will be merged and count as one-half of the final course grade of a full-year course.
Students were also instructed how to take a cellphone photo of assignments and send it to the teachers using school e-mail accounts.
_ Linda Sadlouskos contributed to this article