BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ -- A shortage of teachers within the district, in particular at Governor Livingston High School (GL), has prompted a major change in opening plans in the district. GL will go to all remote instruction on Tuesday, Sept. 8, but before that each of the Plan B groups -- Group A and Group B -- will attend in-person sessions to meet the teachers and pick up materials. Group A will report to school on Thursday, Sept. 3, and Group B students on Friday, Sept. 4.

GL Principal Robert Nixon is expected to send parents a letter with complete details later today, Monday, Aug. 24. The notification of the change in opening plans was sent to parents by Superintendent of Schools Melissa Varley earlier today. Find Dr. Varley's letter here.

According to her letter, the change in plans can be attributed to a new executive order from Governor Phil Murphy “citing local control issues” which authorizes “school districts to open remotely if they did not meet health and safety standards outlined over the course of the summer in other executive orders and directives from the NJDOE.” 

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As a consequence, a number of school districts are opening with all remote methodology, and under the "Family First Coronavirus Response Act” (FFCRA) all staff members who have young children and live in these all remote districts may take “up to 12 weeks of leave,” she wrote. At this point, the district has received a total of 21 requests for that type of leave, plus an additional five requests for medical leave. Dr. Varley said she expects “more FFCRA leave requests” to be arriving from teachers. Since teachers can rescind their request for the FFCRA leave if the district in which they are teaching goes remote, the lack of teachers is no longer a hindrance to reopening.

GL was particularly impacted by FFCRA, 17 teachers filed requests for leaves and the district has “no choice but to start Governor Livingston in an all virtual capacity,” she wrote. The situation will be re-evaluated on a monthly basis.

All the district’s schools, as well as its Plan B for reopening, “were certified as meeting the health and safety standards for reopening for in-person by both the Department of Education and Department of Health,” she wrote 

At this time, grades PreK to 8 will reopen as detailed in Plan B, for in-person learning. However, Dr. Varley said she expects more leave requests to arrive, “on top of other requests from teachers for health-related leaves … (which) may affect the reopening plans for our other grades.”

Her letter also contains update on health and safety issues. Most importantly, perhaps, is all the Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) has arrived.