Update: Superintendent of Schools Nick Norcia corrected the original statement in the lede to inform the public the district has not yet decided on the approach for students to enter school buildings.
FAIR LAWN, NJ - Local school children are scheduled to return to school, in-person, on September 8, after spending the last four months of the prior school year in a distance learning environment, and while many of the specifics about how that will occur are beginning to take shape in Fair Lawn, the preliminary plan laid out on July 23 indicates there are still several issues to be ironed out.
Whether or not students will be screened for fever at the door during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic is one of the issues that has yet to be decided, according to Superintendent Nick Norcia.
"I clearly stated that we have not decided what approach we would be taking as a district for screenings," Norcia told TAPinto in an email.
Original article resumes:
"I am a firm believer in getting kids in the classroom," Norcia said during a Zoom Board meeting on July 23. "Not everyone is going to get everything they want in this plan. This has not been and will not be easy by any stretch of the imagination."
The preliminary plan became necessary after the district was state-mandated to close for the last four months of school amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Norcia laid out the detailed in-person back-to-school plan for the fall that included district-puchased masks, face shields for teachers, and desk shields for kindergarten that are already purchased. He reminded the Board the plan is preliminary with a lot of moving parts.
With a population in excess of 5,000 students district-wide, K-6 will be in school a full day, and 7-12 students will run on an A/B model with half the students working in-school and half the students working remotely on any given school day.
Elementary students can be in school a full day because there is enough classroom space, especially after both of the middle schools were expanded this summer to accommodate students in grades 5-8, Norcia said. Elementary buildings, which used to house K-5, now house K-4.
Students in the high school will not be allowed to utilize their lockers and bathrooms will be closed in-between classes. There will be bathroom monitors during class time when no more than 3 students will be allowed to use a bathroom at one time.
All local school bussing will be suspended until further notice.
"We've had to put subscription and courtesy bussing on hold," Norcia said. "I apologize but we had to make some tough decisions."
Parents were surveyed, Norcia said, and the results were considered when the plan was devised.
While September 8 is the scheduled first day for all students, Norcia said the buildings may not open at all in September, in spite of hopeful guidelines from Gov. Phil Murphy. The intensity of COVID-19 is the main factor for the opening date.
Late last week, Murphy said remote learning is an option for all students in the state, with no restrictions on reasoning for why a family chooses it. But how that looks is largely up to individual districts, as long as their policies are transparent and clear per the state guidelines.
Norcia, who has a kindergarten-aged child in another district, said, as a parent, he understands the strains on parents and educators alike.
"I can't wait till this is all behind us," Norcia said.