MADISON, NJ - Madison’s Superintendent of Schools Mark Schwarz announced Tuesday night at the Board of Education meeting that Phase Two for kindergarten through fifth grade will not start on Monday as previously scheduled, due to a delay in obtaining desk shields to ensure safety in the classrooms. 

 “It would appear pretty certain that we’re not going to be able open Phase Two for all students on Monday,” Schwarz said. “We are working with the vendor to rush this order…and pressuring and doing everything we can.”

While he doesn’t anticipate it will take longer than a week, he added that “all families should be prepared that we’re likely to have some sort of delay.” He said he will provide more details and concrete information this week.

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For the junior school, Schwarz is interested in establishing a firm date for Phase Two but is still receiving feedback from students and staff. A date for the high school will take longer to determine due to ventilation issues. 

Despite a number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the district, Schwarz commended everyone in the community for their commitment to safe behavior. “We’ve unfortunately had some circumstances where individuals within our school communities have had COVID-19 and I’m very grateful for the way those individuals kept themselves safe and showed responsible behavior.” 

But he also urged continual vigilance. “We are aware within our community of still some circumstances of gathering outside of school functions,” Schwarz said. “I want to encourage all parents and all students to be extremely mindful all that everyone’s actions affect everyone else. It would be a real shame if we would have to cease services because we started to have outbreaks throughout the community, so please continue to be safe.” 

The meeting, the first in-person return for board members since the start of the pandemic, began with Board President Heather Reddy announcing that Board Attorney Stephen Fogarty will now be attendance at all meetings until the end of the year. Per his recommendation, a public statement will be read before each public session where members of the community are allowed to speak. 

“I’ve made the recommendation…because we find ourselves with much larger participation at our board meetings and the concern is that issues come up with regard to students and our employees whose right of privacy and confidentiality must be respected,” Fogarty said. “We have to balance those rights against the rights of the public to express their opinion and to ensure that we respect their First Amendment rights.”

“We want a free and open discussion with members of the public,” Fogarty added. “We just want everybody to be aware of the respective rights of the individuals and we want to ensure that the respect we show to the public be reciprocal.”

The board is encouraging the public to attend meetings in person again. There is a room capacity for 11 community members in addition to the board members. The next meeting is scheduled for November 17.