BRIDGEWATER, NJ - Bridgewater-Raritan schools aren’t expected to re-open any time soon, but Superintendent Russell Lazovick is still preaching both communication and caution in the continuing coronavirus climate.
Lazovick said at the remotely-conducted April 28 meeting of the Bridgewater-Raritan board of education that people are looking for regular communication, and he hopes the month of May will bring a “return to normalcy.” He added that he hopes everyone is safe, and said his thoughts go out to all in the area, especially those who have lost someone to COVID-19.
Local schools have been closed since mid-March, with students and teachers all working remotely. The distance learning mode is expected to continue for the time being.
“We know we’re not perfect,” said Lazovick. “We know there’s more we can do.”
He spoke about more face-to-face contact (remotely), and an open (online) portal that would be used to publish grades for the third marking period of the 2019-2020 school year.
“We’re trying to work directly with each student and family,” said Lazovick.
He added that “equity” is not necessarily the same thing as “equal,” and that the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic demonstrates why equity is so important. He added that distance learning, and its social impact, has shown why student interaction with their peers is so vital.
Lazovick said the district is there to support everyone, and that all COVID-19 resources are available in one spot (brrsd.org).
Concerning give-back days, Lazovick said the district is still trying to conserve them. More information will be forthcoming about when the final two will be used after one was used May 1.
As for end-of-the-year events, Lazovick said the district is working with safety and police officials to hold special school events “only in the safest way possible,” and that it is not all about canceling events.
He added that if district families find their financial situation has changed because of the coronavirus pandemic, such as with regard to getting food, they should contact the district for assistance.
Lazovick also cautioned the public that outdoor and playground equipment at Bridgewater-Raritan’s schools are not being cleaned on a regular basis since the district has gone into quarantine and the school buildings have been closed.
“Enjoy the outdoors, but not on school property now,” he said.
Lazovick added that the week of May 4 is Teacher Appreciation Week, and he asked the public to send a message, a tweet or even a video to teachers in the district to let them know their efforts are appreciated, especially during this ongoing period of distance learning.
Lazovick mentioned that the district is planning for a potential return to the schools this year, along with the alternate possibility that there might be no return to the buildings before the current academic year ends. He said he remains in contact with district and county staff regarding both those possibilities.
“We continue to plan ahead,” said Lazovick.
Gov. Phil Murphy is expected to provide an update Monday regarding the remainder of the school year.
Lazovick said he is continuing to meet on a daily basis with staff, administrators and other parties, even parents.
“These are uncertain times,” he said.
He said students are “settling into distance learning,” but that the district is “not resting.” Regular communications to the public are being sent out on Tuesdays and Fridays every week.
“There’s a ways to go,” Lazovick said. “We will continue moving forward together.”
School board president Jackie Barlow reiterated that there are a wealth of resources available on the district website. She said that most communications to the public will come from the individual school buildings, rather than district administration.
She also spoke of maintaining distance learning.
Barlow said that some school districts in America have already canceled the remainder of their academic years, rather than fully embracing distance learning, but added that Bridgewater-Raritan isn’t seeking to do that.
“We have to do our part to reach out, as safely as we can, and comfort those who are not as fortunate,” she said, with everyone also helping to save lives.