FLEMINGTON, NJ - The Hunterdon Central Regional School District has examined different guidance regarding reopening of schools in September, and has put together three operating scenarios for the coming year.
The four principles for reopening, according to the district website, begin with reducing close contact and crowds, by keeping people 6 feet apart while reducing close contact. In addition, the district is looking to reduce mixing, which would curtail the spread of the infection by limiting the number of people in contact with someone carrying the virus.
“Hunterdon Central, like many high schools, would have a very difficult time reducing mixing to a significant degree and still be able to offer a meaningful in-person educational experience,” the district said.
The district is looking into monitoring symptoms through daily statements from staff and students, plus temperature checking. Plus, personal hygiene and disinfecting will remain a priority.
For each principle, the district has evaluated the actions that would match, and has looked at its level of restriction for students and staff.
With regard to reducing close contact, strategies include masking, adjusting bell schedules to eliminate crowding and enforcing social distancing. Reducing mixing requires reducing the movement of students on campus, creating one-way hallways and eliminating mixed gatherings outside of classes and transportation.
Symptom monitoring would include temperature checks and symptom tracking, and disinfecting would include sanitation, elimination of unnecessary high-touch surfaces and personal hygiene.
The district has outlined three operating scenarios, with the plan to operate through one or more of them through the remainder of the crisis. The selection of any of the scenarios will depend on public health indicators, like infection rate and positive test rate.
According to the district, the school is working with the Hunterdon County Department of Health to identify thresholds in the indicators.
“Shifting conditions may require that the district move from one scenario to another, either more or less restrictive,” the district said. “This may happen as a result of a change in public health conditions in our community, a spike in positive cases among students and/or staff, a closure order from a governmental agency or other situations. In all decisions, we will work to balance our goal of returning to campus with the need to keep everyone medically safe, and to contribute to county-wide public health imperatives.”
The first scenario, according to the district, is a new normal, in which there is full attendance of staff and students, except where health considerations require someone to stay home. The district would operate its full program on campus with adjustments to schedules and other practices as needed, and to fulfill the principles for reopening.
The second scenario would be a hybrid, requiring a reduction in the number of staff or students, and mandating the mix of large-scale remote instruction with in-person instruction. In this scenario, different shifts of students could report each day for in-person instruction, and there might also be a shortened in-person day.
The final scenario is for remote instruction only, and would require the school operate much as it did in spring 2020. All facilities would be closed except to essential operations, and students and staff would work remotely.
The district is continuing to work on planning to provide for safe facilities; instructional planning to implement curricula in an environment that can shift from one scenario to another; supporting students in non-instructional operations like nutrition services, counseling and special education; wellness planning; and equity planning to reduce barriers to opportunity for all students.
For more information as the district works on its reopening plans for September, visit the website at hcrhs.org.