HAMILTON, NJ -- With school buildings officially closed through June, the Hamilton Township and Robbinsville Township school districts are now faced with the task of closing out the school year through remote learning.
Hamilton Township School Superintendent Dr. Scott Rocco said that the Governor's decision was not surprise but "it will put into motion a series of scenarios we have been developing for how we finish our school year in Hamilton."
"Governor Murphy's decision to close schools and continue remote learning until the end of the school year is the right decision for the health and well-being of our students, faculty, and staff," said Rocco.
"Over the next month, we will provide our community with details on everything from elementary students collecting their materials from their classrooms to middle school and high school students cleaning out their lockers to graduation for our seniors," added Rocco. "I am confident that in the immediate future the governor’s decision will come with guidelines and protocols to follow related to a variety of topics school districts need to address from today until the last day of school. While we wait for them, we continue to develop plans to finish the school year and celebrate our students in a safe and healthy manner."
Hamilton's School District moved to remote learning after school building closed on March 13. Hamilton students will continue remote learning classes for the current school year until June 17. The District has begun to plan a "Celebrating Our Seniors" program to commemorate the graduation of High School Seniors. They also will celebrate "Decision Day" on May 8 for students who have decided on futures in the military, college and career paths.
Robbinsville Township School Superintendent Dr. Kathie Foster said that they understand the Governor's decision but are disappointed that they will not "have the opportunity to reconnect with our students in person this year."
"I am deeply grateful for the amazing ways in which our staff are still connecting with students and sustaining strong relationships with them; providing robust and challenging learning experiences; keeping our district operations running; preparing lunches and delivering them to families; and keeping our facilities clean and healthy," said Foster "And, of course we could not manage this without the patience and commitment of our families who are juggling many additional roles, including facilitators of the children's learning. It is a privilege to serve this strong and resilient community."
Speaking as residents and parents of students in the school district, Robbinsville Board of Education members Rich Young, Shaina Rose Ciaccio and Scott Viesz said they understand the Governor's decision but are still disappointed and sad about the schools closing.
"As time passed we continued to hope for a return to school, but unfortunately what we likely knew became official today, no school until next year. It gives me a sense that the students have been cheated by this situation. Of course its nobody's fault, but they are not getting the full experience that we normally offer. It's certainly disappointing for the students, the teachers and all those involved and invested in the education system. As a parent of a graduating senior, I'm disappointed for them as well," said Viesz, who currently serves as Board President.
"They all put in significant time and effort over the past 12 years and deserve those special events that normally happen this time of year. Many have missed out the final year of sports, the musical, robotics and so much more," added Viesz. "We really need to work hard over the next several weeks to find special ways to acknowledge their achievements and bring a celebration and the closure they deserve for their time in our educational system."
"Personally speaking, I understand the State's decision, but I'm disappointed for the students, teachers and staff and our entire community. Schools are supposed to be about learning and engagement and participating in special activities. None of that is happening in the usual ways that best serve our children. This virus has taken on a toll on so many in our nation, in particular, our schools," said Young.
"I'm especially sad for the seniors in this year's graduating class, including my daughter who graduates from RHS in June. These young women and men have spent many years working hard, and it's supposed to culminate in a really fun and exciting period in their lives. It's disappointing that so many of the special events that normally take place in the last few months of a senior's year are not happening in the ways that we've all come to expect," added Young. "I'm confident and hopeful that our schools will come up with a few great year-end activities, including a special graduation ceremony. Even so, it's not the way it's supposed to be."
"My son's favorite thing to do is to get on the bus every day and go to school everyday to see his teachers and friends," said Ciaccio. "I feel for all the kids and parents whose children are in specialized education. There is only so much that parents can do but there is a reason why we have teachers and trained professionals helping with specialties including physical therapy and occupational therapy. I am hope we can do something over the summer to help students with special need to keep them from falling behind,"
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