BRIDGEWATER, NJ - There is positive feedback coming following the first day of distance learning Monday, as the district continues on this unprecedented work while all schools are closed due to coronavirus.
According to a post from superintendent Russell Lazovick on the district website, through the first day, the district staff disseminated more than 800 devices for families in need, nearly 1,000 staff members opened online classrooms filled with initial resources and the district prepared and transported meals for almost 1,000 students.
In addition, Lazovick said, support staff responded to each of the 392 emails sent in, and, by noon Monday, almost all the 8,500 students had signed in and reported for school through the attendance form.
Bridgewater-Raritan Education Association President Laura Kress said the district began working on the distance learning the Tuesday before the district closed.
"It seemed like they were starting to plan fairly well," she said. "We were planning more for this to happen in two weeks. But there was a basic plan that was already in progress."
But when the decision was made to close the following week, Kress said, there were a lot of guidance emails sent out, and supervisors holding meetings to go over the basics of the distance learning, which is being done through Google Classroom and other Google applications.
Students, Kress said, have to log on by 10 a.m. every morning, and teachers have to be available for four hours to answer questions and work with the students as needed. The teachers post assignments on the Google platform, so students can access them, complete them and submit them back.
Lazovick said the feedback received on the first day was positive and optimistic.
Kress said things have been going really well with the staff.
"Russ Lazovick, Karen Jones and Daniel Silvia are to be highly commended," she said. "They did a great job working with us, and have been working with us every step of the way."
Lazovick said the teachers worked hard to make sure online classrooms were filled with learning opportunities as students and parents logged in for the first time.
"Remember that we are not in a rush, and the opportunities posted do not represent one day (or night) of work," he said in a letter to the district. "We are not trying to create four-and-a-half hours of work a day for every child (and five hours for every parent). Communicate with your teachers. They will help you find the right balance."
Lazovick reminded the district that these are classrooms, and all the rules and expectations that exist for any school day or school function still exist.
"Within an online platform, there are new ways for 'misbehavior' to occur and this is simply unacceptable," he said. "We may all make mistakes, but we must work diligently to be good digital citizens and to demonstrate the character to which our district values speak."
Lazovick said the most prevalent issue they received questions on was connected to the online attendance form. Students should always use Chrome as their browser, and must be logged in as the student before opening the form.
Lazovick said the best way to contact people is through email at this time, and additional resources can be found on the "Distance Learning" page off the district website.