FRANKLIN, NJ – Franklin Township Public Schools began the 2020-2021 school year on Sept. 8 with all pre-K through 12 grade students taking part in fully remote instruction. As of press time, the district plans to pivot to a hybrid in-person instruction program on Nov. 30 while continuing to offer remote instruction to those who wish to remain virtual. 

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Through the Hybrid Option, Franklin Township students will be divided into two separate and distinct cohorts or 'teams' – a Blue Team and a Gold Team. The teams will attend in-person instruction Monday through Thursday on an every-other week basis; all hybrid students will be remote on their off-week and there will be no in-person instruction on Fridays, regardless of cohort.

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"Some students will be in the gold cohort, some students will be in the blue cohort and they will alternate on alternating weeks while some students will remain in fully remote program option mode," stated Daniel Loughran, the district's assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction, in a video describing the hybrid instruction model. 

According to the district's Restart and Recovery Plan (https://bit.ly/34FCfVk), the hybrid schedule was 'drafted with the most up-to-date guidance from the New Jersey Department of Health (NJDOH), as well the input of stakeholders, staff and student families, about the needs of all students and the realities unique to this district.' 

"The schedule allows for in school learning opportunities utilizing a cohort model that affords each cohort to attend school in person for four consecutive days, following the regular start and end times of each district school, while the remaining cohort of students learn remotely through prepared activities, which are mostly asynchronous," stated the district in its plan. 

"The schedule meets the needs of our secondary and elementary school students, as the planned four-day rotation can easily be adapted…[to accommodate] the high school’s traditional four-day drop-block schedule, the middle school’s traditional A/B alternating block schedule, and the current elementary six-day cycle schedule," it goes on to state. 

For those who are not yet comfortable returning for in-person instruction, the district will continue to offer virtual learning through its Fully Remote Program Option (FRPO). 

Those enrolled in the remote program, along with hybrid students on an 'off week' - will continue to log on for instruction from home as they have since the start of the school year. The school week for both remote and in-person will run on a minimum session schedule with synchronous activities taking place Monday through Thursday. On Fridays, all activities will be asynchronous with all students – hybrid and fully remote –required to log on for attendance purposes and completing the day's activities on their own. 

"We are going to keep the same schedule and we will continue to use Zoom meetings to implement instruction but the challenge and the difference will be now we will have some students joining us in the live, physical space of the classroom," said Loughran, adding, "Our teachers are going to work very hard to have all of those groups of students move together simultaneously."

Additionally, in working to meet the needs of its special populations and remain in alignment with the New Jersey Specific Guidance for Schools and Districts regarding student accommodations, the Franklin School District, on Oct. 12, began welcoming students from some of its specialized programs back for in-person instruction. Currently, students are attending programs at three locations – Claremont Elementary School, Franklin Park School. and Franklin High School. The plan, as of press time, is to welcome additional students from other specialized programs back to these locations and additional elementary schools, beginning Nov. 9. 

"We recognize the value of in-person instruction and realize the sooner we are able to return to some in-person instruction the better, especially for students with special needs," stated Dr. John Ravally, superintendent of Franklin Township Schools, in a letter sent to parents. 

Parents received phone calls last week asking them to confirm their choice of programming for November and anyone who wishes to change to either the Fully Remote Program Option or back to the hybrid schedule must complete the following form: https://bit.ly/33NdHKV. Additional information, including links to information about the plan is available on the Franklin Township School District website (https://www.franklinboe.org/Page/18543); a video explaining the programs can be viewed below.

The goal of both the FRPO and Hybrid options, according to the district's website, is to 'connect students to the teachers, the curriculum and each other.' 

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