LIVINGSTON, NJ — As Livingston Public Schools (LPS) students begin their spring break, the district has provided an update on the first three weeks of remote learning as well as what’s to expect when the district continues with its virtual model on April 13, and the township released a statement to parents urging them to speak with their kids about the importance of maintaining social distance over the next week.

According to Superintendent of Schools Dr. Matthew Block, feedback from students, parents, and community members regarding the district’s preparedness and implementation of the virtual model as well as the creativity and focus demonstrated by faculty has been “overwhelmingly positive.” He also expressed confidence that LPS students are “continuing to learn, create, contribute and grow” thanks to the team effort shown throughout the entire school community.

“With relatively short notice, our school district has moved to serving our students remotely,” said Block. “Although delivering remote education for our students is not an easy task, Livingston’s educators have worked diligently over the last few weeks to creatively and effectively communicate content to our students through what recently was a largely unfamiliar platform…

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“Every instructional moment is now a new experience. There is a tremendous amount of behind-the-scenes work required to make remote learning happen.” 

In addition to acknowledging the efforts of the teachers, counselors and administrators, Block also expressed appreciation toward the secretaries, custodians, technology specialists, maintenance workers, security officers, bus drivers and teacher assistants. According to Block, these faculty members have “significantly contributed to this effort by providing important support for the delivery of instructional and social-emotional services to our students.”

He also noted that the district’s partnership with LPS parents and families “has never been so essential to the learning process.”

“We know that remote learning requires parents to be very hands-on, and we appreciate their support,” he said.

Block also acknowledged that many community members are struggling “emotionally and financially due to the current situation” and are “experiencing isolation and income-loss.” He noted that this continues to be “in the forefront of our thoughts” and reiterated the district has “many wellness resources” posted on its website for this purpose.

Additionally, Block mentioned that the district honors the partnerships “that are helping to lift the community during this challenging time.”

“Our food service provider, Aramark, is providing meals for our students in need. Their tremendous efforts are making a difference for our families,” he said as an example. “Thanks to our community connections, we are ensuring that all of the food we make gets to those who need it.”

District teachers and administrators are are also offering “physically distant but socially connected activities” for children; donating personal protective equipment and supplies to those in need; encouraging students to connect with senior citizens and other students of all ages; utilizing 3-D printers to create masks and ventilator parts for hospitals; and posting bedtime stories, workout videos, games and activities in order to keep students engaged. 

“These examples illustrate that, even remotely, our schools remain an important and central part of our community’s and our students’ daily lives,” said Block.

As the call for social distancing is extended over time, the superintended expressed that it is essential for community members to “continue to listen to health officials and demonstrate care for [their] fellow ‘Livingstonians’ by observing social distancing guidelines and staying home.”

“Experts tell us that these actions will help reduce the spread of this virus, flatten the curve and allow us to be back together even sooner,” said Block. “The Livingston Board of Education and our entire professional team remain committed to doing all we can to be a positive force in helping our community weather this storm, and to work towards helping to bring us closer to the time when we can safely be back together in our schools.”

As spring break began on Monday, Livingston Township and the Livingston Police Department released a statement reminding all residents that “although the Livingston schools will be closed this week, there is no break from the danger of spreading the coronavirus.”

“With the forecast for nicer weather, it can be tempting to get together because the danger is unseen. However, it is very much present,” the police department said. “We may feel healthy but can carry the disease to others who are not. Parents, in particular, are asked to speak with their students and monitor them to ensure they are enjoying spring break at a safe distance of at least six feet from others.

“No group activities, get-togethers or so-called ‘social-distancing parties’ are condoned or allowed for any age group at any location during this state of pandemic emergency. Let’s all stay at least six feet apart to keep Livingston healthy.”