SOMERSET, NJ - On September 14, 2020, Rutgers Preparatory School welcomed students from Pre-Kindergarten through 12th grade back on campus for the first time since March. The beginning of the school year is always an exciting time for everyone in the Rutgers Preparatory School community, and this year, despite the conditions mandated by the COVID-19 virus, is no different.
By implementing state-of-the-art technology, modifying and expanding facilities and staffing, and incorporating the most current medical and scientific guidance, Rutgers Prep will continue to provide an excellent academic and community experience for all of its students within the restrictions of the COVID-19 pandemic. Further, the school will exhibit flexibility in order to adjust to any changes in pandemic conditions - its approach is to seek how to “get it right, rather than to get it fast.”
The plan allows Rutgers Preparatory School to offer a full-day program for all students each day as soon as it is prudent. However, the school administration recognizes that with the current challenges posed by the pandemic, reducing the number of students on campus for the first weeks of school optimizes physical distance, while providing the level of instruction that our families seek.
Rutgers Prep is continuing to offer families the option to have their children remain at home for remote instruction, but the vast majority of families have indicated that they want their children on campus. The school's September approach combines offering on-campus instruction to Lower School families each day with an on-campus/off-campus weekly rotation in the Middle School and Upper School to address class size. This approach will continue until the school is confident returning all students each day to campus is prudent.
Contained Cohorts in the Lower School
In September, Lower School students will be on campus every day and Lower School classes will remain together in cohorts throughout the day, limiting contact with children in other grades. Teachers of special subjects (music, art, STEAM, technology, library and physical education) will come to the classrooms, and many will take advantage of the spacious campus to teach outdoors.
Hybrid Instruction Model for Middle School and Upper School Students
For the Middle and Upper Schools, in September Rutgers Prep opened with a weekly rotation of two groups of Middle and Upper School students on an on-campus/off-campus cycle so that half of the students in Grades 6 through 12 are on campus at any time while the other half are involved in the classroom via remote learning. This reduces class size and the number of students in the hallways, on the stairs, and having lunch.
This Hybrid Instruction Model will continue until such time as the school can safely and effectively accommodate 600+ students each day, a decision that will be heavily influenced by the State of New Jersey and CDC guidelines.
Physical Distancing & Classroom Modifications
We have made modifications to classroom assignments, seating arrangements, and maximum classroom capacities in order to ensure that there will be a minimum of six feet of separation or physical barriers in place between students and faculty. The tables in the cafeteria have plastic dividers to keep all students at a safe distance from each other while they are eating and masks are off.
Cleaning & Air Flow
During the Summer, we evaluated ventilation systems to ensure they are all operating properly and provide acceptable indoor air quality. We have elevated our cleaning protocols in order to minimize the chance of COVID-19 spread via contaminated surfaces or poor ventilation. Our custodial staff perform deep cleaning and disinfecting across campus with a focus on high-touch areas daily (e.g., tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, phones, keyboards, toilets, faucets, sinks). During recess, all sports equipment and playground equipment get sprayed down with disinfectant between sessions.
Everyone on the Rutgers Prep campus, including all students, Faculty, and Staff, must have face masks. In the morning, the Lower School parents do a pre-screen for their children and check-in through the clear2 app which asks several questions related to the health of the child. Students are then temperature checked before being allowed entry to the building. Faculty and staff, Middle and Upper School students are required to do the pre-screen health check-in on the Clear2 app on their phones. When everyone arrives on campus they must have their mask on and then proceed to the Clear2 Kiosk machine which checks temperature upon arrival and clears you for entry.
To learn more about the Rutgers Prep Reopening plan please visit https://www.rutgersprep.org/