CRANFORD - With Governor Phil Murphy announcing on June 26 that New Jersey schools would reopen in fall, the Cranford Public Schools District has important decisions to make in regard to in-person learning.
Superintendent Dr. Scott Rubin issued a letter to the community on Wednesday outlining its plan for September based on the current guidance, as well as providing two additional plans should the State relax or increase constraints.
According to Rubin's letter, some districts announced their intentions to bring back all of their students every day based on guidance from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), which supports social distancing of three-feet. However, the State has since clarified that school districts must use the NJDOE guidance based on the CDC social distancing guidelines, which currently recommend six-feet.
Plan A (based on current State guidance using six-feet as the social distancing standard):
- Preschool - Grade 5: Schools will be open to all elementary school students every day, on a modified schedule, which will roughly follow a single-session day (no lunch/recess period). Teachers will live stream what is taking place in the front of the room for students who remain on virtual instruction to follow along with the class from home. Preschool and half-day Kindergarten will meet every day for 2.5 hours.
- Grades 6-8: Middle School students will be split into two cohorts where one group will attend school in-person on Mondays, Wednesdays, and alternating Fridays, and another group will attend school in-person on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and alternating Fridays. Each cohort will attend school on a modified schedule, which will roughly follow a single session day (no lunch). Teachers will live stream what is taking place in the front of the room for students who are not scheduled to be in-person or who remain on virtual instruction to follow along with the class from home.
- Grades 9-12: High School students will be split into three cohorts where each group will attend school in-person every third day. Each cohort will attend school on a modified schedule, which will roughly follow a single session day (no lunch). Teachers will live stream what is taking place in the front of the room for students who are not scheduled to be in-person or who remain on virtual instruction to follow along with the class from home.
Plan B (Should the State allow districts to use three-feet with face coverings as the social distancing guidelines):
Schools will be open to all students every day, on a modified schedule, which will roughly follow a single-session day (no lunch/recess period).
Teachers will live stream what is taking place in the front of the room so that students who remain on virtual instruction can follow along with the class from home.
Dr. Rubin also provided additional important items of note for plans A or B, which include:
Parents may opt to have their children remain on virtual instruction.
All faculty and students will have their temperature checked prior to gaining entrance to school. Anyone exhibiting symptoms of any illness will be required to remain home from school.
The NJDOE guidance states the following, “School staff and visitors are required to wear face coverings unless doing so would inhibit the individual’s health or the individual is under two years of age. Students are strongly encouraged to wear face coverings and are required to do so when social distancing cannot be maintained, unless doing so would inhibit the student’s health.”
Special Education programming will be based on each child’s IEP and may entail supplemental and extended programming.
Time will be provided during the day to allow for hand-washing, mask “breaks,” snack, and physical movement.
Free and Reduced lunches (Grab and Go) will be provided for those who qualify.
We recognize that an early dismissal schedule is a hardship for some families. However, serving lunch by congregating large numbers of students in lunchrooms is problematic, and so is having students eat lunch in classrooms, as it requires the removal of face coverings and the potential introduction of allergens. Additionally, Governor Murphy’s executive order does not currently allow in-person dining in restaurants; therefore, it would make it difficult to justify serving lunch in schools at this time. We will reassess at the end of September and based on the results adjust as necessary, including the possibility of adding lunch/recess and extending to a full-day. The earlier dismissal of students will also provide additional time to sanitize the school buildings on a daily basis. Please note we will adjust the opening/dismissal of schools so that high school and middle school students will be released prior to the elementary school students so that they may provide additional assistance to families.
Plan C (Should the State require districts to close all in-person instruction):
The District will activate an Enhanced Emergency Education Distance Learning Plan.
Teachers will provide a single-session virtual day, roughly following each student’s typical schedule.
All teachers will use Google Classroom/Google Meet
"While we understand some of the hardships involved in anything less than a 100% return to school, we ask that you begin to make arrangements to help bring students to school every day with safeguards and virus mitigation strategies in place," said Rubin in the letter. "We ask that you please begin to create mask or face covering 'endurance' with your children. Please find reusable/washable face coverings that your child is comfortable wearing and gradually build up the amount of time they can tolerate wearing them. Next, please ensure that you have a working thermometer in your home, personal supplies of hand sanitizer (alcohol-based) that your child can carry to school, and any other personal effects that you think will help your child feel comfortable back in a school environment. We will communicate additional information about health and hygiene practices in the future, but these small steps now will help in the fall, regardless of the type of Plan we implement.
I know that this is a lot to digest and it may be subject to change. This correspondence is not meant to be comprehensive. Our full plan will address many other issues and considerations with respect to school routines, transportation, instruction and assessment, curricular resources, technology support, health and hygiene practices, and more. We will provide additional information by the end of July, but wanted to provide you with a sense of our direction."
The District believes input is critical to the planning, and asks the community to complete the September School Reopening Planning Survey for each of your children in the District by Monday, July 20. The information will be reviewed and utilized to continue to make preparations.