CLARK, NJ - The Clark Public School District is ready to welcome students back in just a few weeks. Superintendent Grande released the district's reopening plan on Tuesday morning. The plan provides an overview of what classes and activities will look like and how students, teachers, staff and visitors will be required to carry themselves on school grounds.
Clark Superintendent Ed Grande said all plans were made with care and an abundance of thought. "Throughout the planning process, we were looking to have our students in the buildings on as consistent a basis as possible, while keeping their health and safety in the forefront of our thinking," he said.
According to the plan, students throughout the district will attend school daily in either morning or afternoon sessions. Superintendent Grande said the a.m.- p.m. schedule will allow for fewer students in the schools at any time and provide the space necessary to maintain school distancing. The detailed report released today is included below, here are some highlights:
- Students, will be required to wear a mask whenever social distancing is not possible and at all times in restrooms and on buses. Staff and teachers will be required to wear masks at all times, regardless of social distancing guidelines. The only exception to either is medical exemptions.
- Maintenance staffing has been increased to provide for disinfecting throughout the building during the day. Sanitation stations, alcohol wipes in classrooms and more are a few of the updated safety procedures included in the plan.
- Lunch rooms will provide grab and go lunches to those students eligible for free or reduced lunch. There will be no lunch period during the school day.
- Locker rooms will remain closed, as will the restrooms in them. There will be physical education classes with low-exertion actitvities.
- In order to maintain social distancing and manage the number of students on premises at any time, Grande said student pick-up must be timely.
The following is the full "Reopening of Schools Plan 2020-2021 School Year" as released by the Clark Public School District:
1. ALJ, CHK, FKH, and VRS will be operating on an a.m./p.m. schedule. In other words, half of the student body at each school will be assigned by the District to the a.m. in-person session while the other half will be assigned to the p.m. in-person session. Our Preschool PSD class is already a half-day program.
a. This approach allows us to create the needed social distancing since only half of the student body will be physically present at any given time. Nevertheless, our students will be physically in our school buildings every day. This consistency has immense educational advantages along with social and emotional ones.
b. Every effort will be made to keep children from the same household in the same session regardless of the specific schools that they attend. If for some reason an oversight is made and two children from the same household are assigned to different sessions, we will seek to make an adjustment. This situation is the only one for which an adjustment will be made since doing so for all of our students across the district while maintaining the needed social distancing would be virtually impossible.
c. Every effort will also be made to have students in the a.m. session seated at different desks than those desks used during the p.m. session. At the K-5 level, such a separation is natural since each child has his/her own desk. At the 6-12 level, such a separation will occur through the desks being labeled as “a.m.” versus “p.m.” The needed disinfecting of any desks used during both sessions will occur between sessions.
d. As a result of this a.m./p.m. approach, students will not eat lunch while in school. However, grab-and-go lunches will still be provided to our students in the free and reduced lunch program.
e. Parents/guardians are being asked to have their children picked up immediately upon the conclusion of school each day. With the a.m. and p.m. sessions being in place, this timeliness will be important for the needed social distancing to occur. Pick-up procedures will be established by each school in order to maintain safe environments. In order to stress the importance of timely pickups, please understand that, if you repeatedly fail to pick up your child(ren) accordingly, we will be forced to contact the appropriate and necessary authorities (i.e., Clark Police Department or DCP&P).
f. All of our self-contained special needs classes across the district (including our Preschool ABA class) will operate under their more typical, full-day schedules due to the more limited number of students in these classes. These students will eat lunch in their classrooms.
g. Our district-wide early dismissal days (e.g., Wednesday, November 25, 2020 and Wednesday, December 23, 2020) will take the form of our teachers instructing all of their students remotely from their classrooms. There will be no separate a.m. and p.m. sessions on these days. The same will be true for our unscheduled delayed opening days.
h. The “bell” schedule for each building along with the assignment of students to the a.m. versus p.m. sessions will be sent by each individual school during the first week of August.
2. Our district before/after care program will not be offered for the time being. However, the Fanwood-Scotch Plains YMCA will be providing an offering at their location in Scotch Plains. Transportation to their site will be provided by the YMCA. The below link will take you to up-to-the-minute program information and an interest form. This option will also be available for our staff members’ children. Clark School Age Child Care Interest Form
3. Teachers will be using Google Classroom to accompany and supplement the above in-person time so as to meet, for example, State time requirements. Kindergarten teachers will be using the Seesaw platform instead due to that platform having a better fit with our younger learners.
a. As a result, the approach will be seamless if we need to work under a full remote model for an extended period of time again.
b. If we do need to return to a full remote model at some point in the future, the remote facetime via, for example, Google Meet or Zoom will occur during the in-person time described above with the teachers instructing from their classroom settings so that we, in essence, will be working under one plan.
c. All of our K-12 students will be provided with email accounts, and these email accounts will be accompanied by unique passwords.
d. Devices will be available for in-school use and at-home use as needed.
4. Our more typical grading procedures and practices will remain in place. The District will not be moving to a pass/fail system. Our attendance policies and procedures will also remain in place. However, adjustments will be made due to extenuating circumstances.
5. Students, unless medically unable (documented via a physician’s note), must wear face coverings at all times when a six-foot social distance cannot be maintained. Staff members and visitors (with the exception of those visitors under two years of age), unless medically unable (documented via a physician’s note), must wear face coverings at all times regardless of social distancing.
a. All students will be provided with a neck gaiter by the District. However, they can choose to wear another face covering instead.
b. All staff members will be provided with both a neck gaiter and face shield by the District. However, they can choose to wear another face covering instead.
c. The District is investigating “mask breaks” built into the student schedule, especially for our elementary and middle school students during times when they need to wear their face coverings for an extended period of time due to a lack of social distancing. Due to the maturity of the high school students, such breaks would be provided on a more individual basis.
d. Face coverings must be worn by both students and staff members at all times while in restrooms.
6. Transportation will be provided to our eligible students in both the a.m. and p.m. sessions. Due to this a.m./p.m. split, the number of students riding a given bus will be less than that number more typically would have been. With that being said, face coverings must still be worn at all times while on the bus due to us not being able to guarantee a six-foot social distance.
a. Bus seats will be disinfected prior to students boarding the vehicle.
b. Windows on the bus will remain open depending on appropriate weather conditions.
7. Our classrooms, office spaces, such common spaces as copy rooms, and the exteriors of our restrooms throughout the District will be equipped with hand sanitizer dispensers. Dispensers will also be located at our building entrances. These various dispensers need to be used:
a. by our students and staff members as they enter classrooms, office spaces, and common spaces;
b. by any visitors prior to entering the buildings;
c. after sneezing and wiping/blowing noses; and
d. upon students’ return from outdoor activity or physical education.
8. Pritchard Industries, our custodial services company, will be disinfecting our school buildings throughout the course of the school day and each evening. For example, our custodians, on an ongoing, daily/nightly basis, will be cleaning and disinfecting our classrooms and restrooms, filling our disinfectant dispensers, carefully disinfecting our telephones and door knobs, emptying trash cans, and replenishing supplies (e.g., paper towels in restrooms). They will be using products on the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) disinfectants list. Additional Pritchard staff are being hired for our day shifts, and those classroom desks and chairs that are used during both the a.m. and p.m. sessions will be disinfected after the a.m. session but prior to the p.m. session. Please trust that the disinfecting of our buildings has been a central focus of our planning and will continue to be given that same level of attention as we move ahead. We will be carefully monitoring this need and making any needed adjustments as the health and safety of our students and staff members is our top priority.
9. Each classroom will be equipped with disinfecting alcohol wipes that can be used as needed on, for example, student desks and technological devices. Cleaning stations with additional disinfecting items will be located throughout each building at various locations that only staff members can access.
10. Parents/guardians will need to complete a release form in the Genesis Student Information System that states that they will take their child’s temperature and check for the various COVID-19 symptoms no more than an hour before sending him/her to school each day. This release form will also require parents/guardians to notify their child’s school of any travel outside of New Jersey so that we can check the destination against the current travel advisory in place at that time. One completed release form will cover the student for the entire school year, and students will not be granted building access until the form is submitted.
a. Staff members, including substitute teachers and aides, will complete a similar release form.
11. When calling a child out sick either within Genesis or via a phone call, the parent/guardian must state the specific symptoms that the child has.
a. If a student has a fever or is sent home from the Health Office with a fever of 100 degrees Fahrenheit or higher, he/she will not be readmitted to school until:
i. at least ten days have passed since the first appearance of the fever or
ii. the provision of a physician’s note stating that the student may return to school due to having completed a prescribed treatment.
12. Just as in the past, if a student is sent to the Health Office, that student will be assessed by the school nurse. This assessment will include his/her temperature being taken, and he/she will be sent home if ill. We will be asking parents/guardians to make arrangements for their child to be picked up as soon as possible.
a. There will be an isolation area in each school for students who are displaying COVID-19 symptoms.
13. As per guidance from our local Health Department, if a student or staff member tests positive for COVID-19, the parents/guardians of the students in that class(es) will be notified. However, the students and staff member(s) in that class(es) will not be required to quarantine as a result of such preventive measures as hand sanitizing, social distancing, and the wearing of face coverings being taken. These students and staff member(s) can therefore immediately return to school.
a. The student or staff member who tested positive will be told to self-isolate until:
i. at least ten days have passed since the symptoms first appeared,
ii. 24 hours without a fever and with no fever-reducing medications have passed, and iii. there is improvement of respiratory symptoms (e.g., cough and shortness of breath).
b. The District reserves the right to require up to two negative COVID-19 test results that are spaced at least 24 hours apart.
c. Contact tracing will be conducted by the local Health Department as appropriate.
14. While we will be greatly limiting the number of visitors to our buildings, any visitors will need to verify that they have taken their temperatures and are symptom-free as part of the security check that is conducted prior to building access being granted.
a. Our Back-to-School Nights will be in the form of each teacher posting a video as opposed to our more typical, in-person format. As a result, there will be no change to the schedule for these days. In other words, both the a.m. and p.m. sessions will occur.
b. Parents/guardians are being asked to make doctor appointments for their children outside of the scheduled in-person school times and, if an appointment during school hours is necessary, to keep the child home from school that given day. A medical note can be obtained so that the absence becomes an excused one.
15. Extracurricular clubs and activities must comply with the needed social distancing requirements and hygiene protocol.
a. Clubs and activities, for the time being given our current situation, will have a remote format as opposed to, for example, taking place in between the a.m. and p.m. sessions.
b. Mr. Kalikas, our Athletic Director, has and will continue to communicate directly with our student athletes and their parents/guardians.
c. Field trips will be postponed for the time being. 4
16. Wherever possible, one-way hallways will be put into place. Social distancing markers will be placed in the hallways. Students will be socially distanced in our restrooms through colored markers and/or a limited number of students being given access to these spaces at any given time. The number of accessible restrooms, when feasible, will be limited (e.g., the restrooms in the locker rooms will be inaccessible). With less students being in the buildings, such an approach will allow for the creation of a more efficient disinfecting schedule.
17. The needed accommodations will be made to our art, music, and physical education programs so that the needed social distancing requirements and hygiene protocol can be maintained. For example, the sharing of art supplies will be minimized while the needed spacing of students will occur in our music and physical education classes. The students will also be engaged in low exertion physical education activities due to the locker rooms being inaccessible at this time.
a. Students will need to wear sneakers to school so that they can participate in their physical education classes while the locker rooms are inaccessible.
18. Students are to remain off campus when not in school. ALJ and CHK students are not to visit FKH or VRS. Field use at any of the schools will be by permit only. The FKH and VRS playgrounds are not to be accessed before or after the a.m. and p.m. sessions.
19. Parent and staff training sessions on, for example, our new procedures, wellness, and the transition back to school will be provided.
20. Please complete the below form regarding your plan to send your child(ren) back to the physical building(s) based on the above information. While circumstances may change, we are trying to get an idea of our in-person student enrollment so that we can appropriately plan. Although these responses are not binding, kindly complete the below form with your best thinking at this time by Monday, August 3 at noon. Information regarding the full remote option that the State announced last week will be provided after the above responses are received. Child Return to School