MILLBURN, NJ — On Monday night, the Millburn Board of Education unveiled plans for reopening schools in the fall.
All Board members displayed understanding of the seriousness of the pandemic and all plans are being guided by the mission to: “provide for the health and safety of all staff and students to return to the Millburn Township Schools.”
In order to make sure that plans cover for the needs of as many staff members and students as possible, the Return to School Task Force includes administrators, staff members, Board of Education Members, parents, and students.
Additionally, the Board is also planning for multiple possibilities. In March when schools first closed, teachers only had a few days to prepare materials for a possible two weeks of virtual learning. At the time, completing the academic year online seemed unlikely. Now, the possibility of moving students completely back to virtual learning is already being planned for to ensure that all students learn the same curriculum as thoroughly as they would have with in person instruction.
Currently, the schools are all preparing for either a blended model, a fully virtual model, or the traditional in person model.
With regards to health and safety, all students and staff will be required to wear masks and social distance in all spaces. Time will be allotted each day for students to wash their hands and there will be hand sanitizing stations throughout the buildings. Daily screenings will also take place along with thorough daily cleanings of all school buildings.
With regards to academics, there are currently frameworks in place with the understanding that the plans might need to change by the time schools reopen in September.
Elementary school students will attend school five days a week for two and half hours, either in the morning or in the afternoon. Teachers will focus on core subjects, including reading, writing, and math. Students will also attend one and a half hours of virtual learning every day for subjects including art, physical education, music, library, and science or social studies. There will be no lunch or recess.
Middle school and high school students will both attend school two days per week for five hours, alternating between A and B days. The other two days will be spent learning virtually. The final day of the week will be fully virtual for all students. There will be no lunch, although there will be daily snack break.
Superintendent Dr. Christine Burton explained that the schedules were designed based on themes from the parent surveys emailed out before the previous school year ended, such as “a preference for more live sessions with teachers and also opportunities for small group meetings.”
Even though all students in the district will be continuing to learn virtually during this next academic year, the Board of Education is still working with staff members to improve virtual teaching tactics and to adapt to the learning needs of all students.