BERNARDS TOWNSHIP, NJ — What will school look like when it reopens this fall?

Bernards Township Board of Education members will discuss how to meet state requirements at a special school board “virtual” meeting at 7 p.m. tonight, Wednesday, July 8. The public is invited to listen and comment remotely.

Instructions to participate in the virtual meeting will be posted by 6 p.m. at www.Bernardsboe.com.

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Schools are facing reopening using masks, social distancing and increased sanitizing procedures.

Wednesday’s meeting will begin with a panel discussion on health considerations, followed by public comment.

There will be a report on results of a township school district survey that asked parents if they would be willing to send their children for in-person instruction.

School administrators are expected to present schedules under consideration.

The state governor and Board of Education have issued guidelines for planned school reopening in September.

"New Jersey's 'The Road Back' plan requires that school districts be open in the fall for in-person instruction in some capacity. In-person instruction will involve students coming to school on some type of rotating basis to allow for social distancing (a normal opening is not possible)," the Bernards survey noted.

In the state’s Restart and Recovery plan, school districts must adopt a policy for screening students and employees for symptoms of COVID-19 and history of exposure.

Schools must strive for social distancing in the classroom and on school buses. If unable to maintain physical distance, additional modifications should be in place, including physical barriers between desks and turning desks to face the same direction.

Each school district must also adopt more strenuous cleaning and disinfecting procedures. It would minimize use of shared objects, ensure indoor facilities have adequate ventilation, maintain hand sanitizing stations and make sure students wash hands frequently.

Schools must comply with Center for Disease Control (CDC), state and local guidelines.

Schools and districts must allow for social distancing to the maximum extent possible. When social distancing is difficult or impossible, face coverings are required, and masks are always required for visitors and staff unless it will inhibit the individual’s health.

Social distancing and wearing masks will likely be necessary on buses to the maximum extent practicable. Buses will have to be cleaned and disinfected.

Physical reminders and guides, such as tape on floors or sidewalks and signs on walls, will be part of the effort to help ensure that staff and students remain at least six feet apart.

School districts must adopt a policy for “safely and respectfully” screening students and employees for symptoms of and history of exposure to COVID-19.

Schools should cooperate with local health departments with information regarding the role of contact tracing in reducing the spread of contagious disease.

School districts must also develop a schedule for increased routine cleaning and disinfecting, especially of frequently touched surfaces and objects, and sanitize bathrooms daily and between use as much as possible.

Eating times will likely be staggered to allow for social distancing and disinfecting of the cafeteria between groups. No family-style, self-service, and buffet-style dining will be allowed.

For recess and physical education, schools must complete an inventory of outdoor spaces and mark off areas to ensure separation between students. Recess must be staggered by groups and staff must disinfect playground equipment and other shared equipment between uses.

Locker rooms may be closed and students encouraged to wear comfortable clothing and safe footwear to school in order to participate in physical education classes without needing to change