DENVILLE, NJ -- As summer draws to a close, it is official that public schools in Denville Township will be reopening on September 8. Despite the coronavirus threat, school leaders have their minds set on continuing to provide the best education to their students, whether in-person or virtual, while keeping a safe, healthy environment.

“We are confident in our plan and are excited to have the students and staff back in the schools,” said Superintendent Steve Forte.

Elizabeth Baisley, principal of Lakeview Elementary, felt the same way.

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“The teachers have been working diligently, preparing their rooms and lessons for the arrival of the students,” stated Baisley, in a letter posted on the school district website.

“This highly skilled and gifted staff are dedicated to providing challenging and exciting opportunities for your students to continue to thrive in their academic arena. It promises to be an exciting year. The staff, Mr. Scala and I look forward to working with you. Things may look and feel different, but our Lakeview School PRIDE will also be evident no matter the learning environment!”

Parents of Lakeview students will need to complete a daily screening form. The forms need to be submitted by 7:30 a.m. each day. Drop-off routes for students also can be found on the school district website.

Each grade level has a virtual teacher assigned to the class. Information will be sent home to provide the students with a drive-by meet-and-greet with the teacher and receive materials needed for the virtual program on September 3. More details will follow.

As for health and safety, signs will be placed throughout the Lakeview building reminding students of the importance of washing hands, wearing masks, coughing appropriately and social distancing when possible. Wearing masks are required of all school staff and students. Hallways will be marked with tape that separate the sides of the hallway, with arrows indicating the direction of travel. Areas that are less spacious will become one way. Furthermore, classrooms, bathrooms and door handles will be cleaned thoroughly every day using the appropriate cleaning products.

Lakeview class assignments will be available on August 28. A virtual Back-to-School Night will take place on September 16. More details will follow.

The excitement also can be heard at Riverview Elementary. Aside from the addition of the new Annex building at the former St. Mary’s School just across the street, Riverview will be taking its own health and safety precautions, while providing the best education.

“We are excited to continue our work with social emotional learning and character development as a National School of Character,” shared Christina Theodoropoulos, principal of Riverview, in a letter posted on the school district website.

“We are eagerly waiting to hear the announcement of the National Blue Ribbon Schools by the United States Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos, in September to see if we received this amazing national recognition. Riverview School has also currently been ranked #7 in the state! NJ School Ranking.”

“As a parent, you play an essential part in your child’s education, and we truly value your support and input. We look forward to working in partnership with you to enable our students to meet their highest potential. At Riverview School, we take a whole child approach; we aim at ensuring students’ progress not only academically, but socially and emotionally as well. We appreciate the trust you place in our hands and we take this responsibility very seriously. We look forward to working together to provide our students with safe, engaging and meaningful learning experiences. We ask for your flexibility, collaboration and patience as we implement new procedures and navigate through these unprecedented times.”

“We are excited with the addition of the Annex and can’t wait for students to see their new classrooms! The building was refurbished and went through a complete 'makeover' to meet our Riverview standards and with our fourth and fifth grade students in mind. Though we have two buildings and students are learning in person and virtually, we are still one united school!”

For the 2020-21 school year, Riverview intends to conduct many safe and healthy procedures, including:

  • New times: 8:40-12:40 a.m. for in-person instruction. Virtual instruction will continue in the afternoon from approximately 1:30-3:15 p.m.
  • Students will wear masks on the bus and throughout school day with some mask breaks outdoors.
  • Average class size for in-person instruction will be 12-14 students. Dedicated teachers have been assigned per grade level to teach students learning virtually.
  • Parents must complete health screening form before school each morning as related to COVID-19 symptoms for students to be allowed admittance to school.
  • All parent meetings will be held virtually.
  • A virtual Back-to-School Night will be held on September 17, where students and parents will receive an in-depth overview of information regarding the school year.

Valleyview Middle School also is moving forward with precautions of its own.

“Valleyview continues to create a partnership where teachers and students take great pride in creating an educational atmosphere where students can learn in a caring and creative environment,” remarked Seth Korman, principal of Valleyview, in a letter posted on the school district website.

“We will provide a variety of academic and educational experiences that promote student growth and learning throughout the year. I am honored to serve as the principal of Valleyview Middle School. It is a privilege to be part of a community where parents, teachers, and students strive to build a positive relationship that supports academic and social growth. I look forward to seeing you on the first day of school.”

As the first day of school looms near, Valleyview will be undertaking several safety procedures, including:

  • All school staff and students will be required to wear a mask while inside the building.
  • Clear plastic partitions, or “sneeze guards,” will be provided for use as a physical barrier between individuals.
  • The school building is being outfitted with signage and floor markers to remind the staff and students to maintain social distancing and to follow health protocols whenever possible.
  • Multiple entrances will be used for the students to enter the building to assist with social distancing.
  • Dismissal for each period will be staggered to minimize traffic in hallways.
  • School buses will unload students in front of the building while parents will drop off their children in the park across Diamond Spring Road. Safety officers from the Denville Police Department will be on hand to assist students as they cross the road.

Moreover, the Valleyview school building has been upgraded to meet the challenges of COVID-19 pandemic. These upgrades include new air filters, floor markings, signs and plastic dividers. Along with these upgrades, the school campus is undergoing a major renovation of the outdoor athletic complex. New baseball and softball diamonds, field space, fencing and walk-ways will be completed for use during the next school year. 

In other news, for all three public schools, extracurricular activities and field trips are currently on hold. Also, due to the COVID-19 threat, visitors will not be allowed in any of the school buildings.

For more information and updates, visit the Denville Township School District website at http://www.denville.org/.