BERNARDS TOWNSHIP, NJ -- Bernards Township educators learned Monday that schools statewide will remain closed for the rest of the school year.
But little else is clear, Superintendent Nick Markarian said in the live streamed broadcast of Monday night’s Board of Education meeting.
The district doesn’t know about graduation ceremonies, summer school, extended school year or if facilities can be rented to camps over the summer.
“We got one answer today,” said the superintendent.
The school calendar will continue as scheduled, Markarian said Tuesday. Distance learning will continue as it has since schools closed March 16.
The governor said Monday that schools wouldn’t reopen through June in order to ensure the “safety and well-being of our children, and of our educators, administrators and staff." New Jersey is struggling to fight the spread of the coronavirus pandemic that has killed almost 8,000 residents.
Markarian called it sad, frustrating and heartbreaking that there probably wouldn’t be a traditional graduation ceremony. He said school and law enforcement leaders were discussing such things as virtual or livestreamed ceremonies. The middle school graduation is slated for June 17 and the high school’s on June 18.
He said the district was looking for more guidance from Governor Murphy on such events as graduations.
“The Department of Education will work with school officials to share ideas on safe and innovative ways to recognize 2020 high school graduates and other end-of-year milestones for students,” Murphy said Monday.
Markarian said he didn’t think any event could happen if it brings many people together and threatening the social distancing rules seen as a key weapon against spread of the Covid 19 virus.
Statewide, all spring sports were canceled.
Looking ahead, there were questions how to operate the traditional school day while respecting a six-foot separation between people. It raised huge questions on everything from riding on buses, to crowded hallways between classes, to changing clothes for physical education classes, he said.
He said the school was looking to install hand sanitizers in every room, no-touch motion-sensitive soap and paper towel dispensers and water faucets in restrooms.
The district has conducted distance learning via computer devices since March 16, when schools across the state were closed. In the first two weeks, the work concentrated on reviewing previous content. Since then, the system has ramped up to advance student learning, give grades to assignments and increase student-teacher interaction.