LIVINGSTON, NJ — A poll taken by TAPinto Livingston over the weekend indicated that just over 55 percent of Livingston parents favor the hybrid instruction model presented via Email to all Livingston Public Schools families last week over the fully remote model being offered to all families when school reopens in September.

Out of 266 respondents to a poll that was posted on Facebook, 118 parents (or 44.52 percent) said they preferred the all-remote option versus 148 parents (or 55.47 percent) who preferred the hybrid model.

Ahead of Monday’s Livingston Board of Education meeting, where administrators will discuss how state health regulations and recommendations from parents and teachers will be incorporated into the reopening plan, families have had since Wednesday to assess the options.

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As school districts have worked tirelessly over the last few weeks to determine a reopening plan that is in the best interest of both students and teachers, parents have contemplated the many proposals being presented in neighboring towns and across the country.

Citing their concerns over the safety of their children as well as their determination to ensure that children still receive the best possible education, Livingston parents have shown both criticism and approval toward the plan currently being presented at Livingston Public Schools.

Eileen O’Neil, a Livingston parent who responded to the Facebook poll, reported that her family has decided to leave the public school district for a catholic school with that is offering “consistent instruction live and full time.”

Geoff Hoffman said he feels there will not be enough time dedicated to in-person learning and extra help.

“There’s a long time in between core classes,” he said. “For example, they may have math for a week and then not have it again for nine days.”

Hoffman also commented that repetition and reinforcement are imperative for learning new material.

Alyse Berger Heilpern was apprehensive about whether the needs of students with learning issues will be met, specifically expressing doubt that the secondary school plan will be able to ensure that Individual Education Plans (IEPs) are followed.

She also commented that the hybrid model will create difficulties with “how supports and accommodations mandated by the IEPs are going to be implemented” and expressed fear that “the most vulnerable population has been forgotten by the district.”

Among those who currently prefer a completely remote plan are working parents who are at risk for COVID-19 and parents who are able to work from home.

Breast cancer survivor Carolina Suarez, for instance, is currently working from home, where she also lives with her 70-year-old aunt.

“My aunt and I are high risk, so I’m afraid for my daughters to attend school and bring home any germs,” she said.  

Livingston resident Prashanth Brahmandam explained that his boss allows him to telecommute due to the pandemic while his wife is also operating her own business from their home. Since their work schedule works for their daughter, Brahmandam said he is in favor of the all-remote instruction model.

“She is pretty self-motivated, and we’re home,” he said, although he also understood why a hybrid would work better for other parents and students.

Livingston is currently refining a hybrid schedule that would enable students to attend partial school days, alternating between in-person and remote instruction.

According to an overview of the plan that was presented to Livingston families last week, students will be divided into cohorts in order to reduce the number of students who will be inside the facilities at one time.

At the middle and high school levels, students will have one full day of in-person learning each week, while elementary students will have two consecutive days of in-person learning followed by two days of remote.  

Monday’s Livingston Board of Education meeting will provide more information on how the September school model is evolving while also allowing the public to provide input.

The meeting will be held in a webinar format, during which participants will be able to ask questions and make comments. Members of the public who are not able to participate in the webinar can send questions/comments along with their name and address to mbent@livingston.org to be read during the meeting. 

CLICK HERE to view the agenda for the meeting.