MIDDLETOWN, NJ - 'Back to school' plans in area towns are emerging and the September schedule is headed for major disruptions. Some degree of remote instruction appears virtually guaranteed. Middletown is a good example of what is to come in Monmouth County as they just released information that provides detailed insight into the fall educational schedule. A few key points:
- Reduced daily occupancy means in school classes only twice a week
- Special education programming will be five days a week
- Parents can elect full remote
- Groups will be based on last names (A-K, L-Z, etc)
- Group A goes to school Monday and Tuesday, Group B goes to school on Thursday and Friday
- Teachers are encouraged to use outside spaces - weather permitting
- Transportation will be offered
- Masks are mandatory in most areas
According to a letter released by Middletown School Superintendent William O. George III, Ed. D., "The district’s Reopening of Schools Committee members continue to discuss and analyze the New Jersey Department of Education’s reopening of schools guidance included in The Roadback - Restart and Recovery Plan for Education as we create the district’s plan. Committees have considered the NJDOE’s “anticipated minimum requirements” while establishing new district operations and procedures and have discussed many other topics including best practices for instruction, social emotional learning and effective health and safety protocols."
The district plans to reopen schools with a reduced daily student occupancy. They settled on what is described as 'one viable solution' that addresses interconnected challenges to reopening schools.
"In order to implement social distancing measures and community transmission mitigation strategies as well as resume in-person instruction as directed by the Governor and NJDOE guidelines, a cohort hybrid schedule will be used at all schools to split students into two groups, based on their last names, with some exceptions noted below. During an initial phase of our district’s reopening plan, every student will be scheduled for on campus in-person instruction with their assigned teacher(s) two consecutive days per week, based on their designated cohort’s schedule, and remote virtual instruction with their assigned teacher(s) three days per week. We will start the school year following an early release schedule of 4 hours and 15 minutes for on campus in-person instruction at all schools due to social distancing guidelines and limitations pertaining to lunch service." wrote Dr. George.
"There are some exceptions to the hybrid cohort schedule noted above. Some students require additional in-person on campus instruction and support. Their classes are organically smaller in size and naturally satisfy current social distancing measures. All students enrolled in our special education class programs (LLD, MD, BD, Autism and PreK disabilities) will be scheduled for in-person on campus instruction Monday through Friday (no hybrid cohort schedule as described above.) Students will follow a full day schedule and their school’s regular start/end times. Lunch will be scheduled during the school day and service will be available as prepared “grab and go” meals."
"Remote virtual learning during the 2020-2021 school year will look different from your child’s experience last spring due to the feedback the district has received as well as recommendations from staff and community members. It will include multiple opportunities for consistent face-to-face instruction using classroom webcasts and Google Meets as well as independent learning opportunities, which will be more widely used in the upper grades. All students will follow their school’s start/end times and/or assigned class meeting times when participating remotely. Each student will be assessed using the standard district grading policy." wrote Dr. George.
Across the board, schools are beginning to ask parents to help with something called 'mask tolerance'. Essentially, students may be required to wear masks for lengthy periods of time. This will include buses, entering and exiting schools, walking in hallways and inside classrooms. Parents can practice mask wearing with their children to build up tolerance.
Tolerance in general will be required during one of the most challenging periods ever, save wartime, in our nations history.