BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ -- Beginning Monday, Nov. 9, students in grades one through five will attend school in-person for half a day, with no lunch, according to a letter sent to all parents in the district by Superintendent of Schools Melissa Varley.
Parents who chose full remote learning for their children will continue with that arrangement.
Dr. Varley said the decision to change to Plan A for students in grades one through five was made after administrators reviewed the result of a survey of staff and students sent out last week. According to the letter, elementary level educators responded they preferred “(85% in favor) to move to Plan A - all students in-person for half a day with no lunch.” The classrooms will be set up in such a way as to allow for “adequate social distancing” according to the letter, however, maintaining six feet of distance between students may not always be possible. To keep the district in compliance with state safety guidelines, each student will receive their own “protective barrier for their desk.” The barriers are portable and students may personalize them.
Full Day Kindergarten students remain on their same schedule. Parents of Pre-K and half-day Kindergarten students will receive more information next week about their schedule.
Parents of in-person students can expect the students to receive more direct instruction, according to the letter, and remote students can expect attention and support for their teachers.
Students at Columbia Middle School (CMS) and Governor Livingston High School (GL) will continue to follow the same hybrid model they are now following - 50% of the students in school on an alternating week schedule. However, the in-person morning instruction time will be extended from four to five hours, in order to accommodate the wishes of the majority of teachers, 89%, and students, 81%, of whom wanted to return to the six period rotate and drop schedule. Beginning Monday, Nov. 9, CMS will hold classes from 8:15 a.m. to 1 p.m., no lunch, and GL will hold classes from 7:50 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Afternoon sessions will continue as they are currently, and will include labs, extra help and support sessions, according to the letter.
Given the changes, parents may decide to move their child to full remote learning. To do so, follow the link to Dr. Varley's letter, above, then fill out and submit the form by Oct. 28. Those who move their child or children to remote learning must continue to keep them in remote until “the next quarter or trimester break,” the letter reads. According to guidelines published on the district’s website, those dates are:
● Grades 6-12 can revert to in-person instruction at the start of each marking period on November 9, January 25, and April 5.
● Elementary students can revert to in-person instruction on November 2, January 19, March 8, and April 19.
● Parents must inform their building principal in writing 10 days prior to the re-entry date in order to move from remote to in-person learning.