SOUTH BRUNSWICK, NJ - On August 6, Superintendent of South Brunswick Schools Scott Feder presented the district’s re-entry plan for the 2021 academic year. The board has been moving forward to make a plan as per Governor Phil Murphy’s demand to re-open schools this fall. According to Feder, percent of South Brunswick parents have filled out the online form about whether their child will be attending school in the fall. So far, 73 percent of them have said that they will not be sending their child into schools. The percentage kindergartners and preschoolers is as high as 85. Seventy-six percent of parents have decided to waive the bus option and drive their children to school.
The Advisory Committee and the Re-entry Team have been meeting on a weekly basis to listen to the concerns of the community and design a plan based on the most up to date
information.The two biggest obstacles are the conditions of learning and the continuity of learning. A five-phase system is being put in place in order to slowly and safely bring students
back into the schools, with a final goal of completely opening up without restrictions. This is something the board of education does not expect to accomplish in the upcoming year. The board is aiming to get to the stage three ‘Hybrid Model’ with in class restrictions and limited services for the 2021 school year.
All staff and students are required to wear a mask when on school property. Students must fill out a questionnaire to determine if they can enter the school. If they have experienced
fevers or been in contact with a sick person they will be denied entry. Anyone who was denied entry must be quarantined for ten days before re-entry.
Disinfectants and cleaning supplies will be available to everyone. Classroom will have a hand sanitizing station and every room will have a sign off sheet to determine what has and has
not been cleaned. The district has also ordered plexiglass barriers to place between teachers and students. The barriers are currently on back order.
For transportation, buses will be maxed out at 32 students per ride with window to window seating. Feder stressed that students must have their mask on when they are at the bus stop. If not, they will be denied entry and possibly banned from bus rides. For classrooms, the board is planning on putting classes in the cafeterias and gyms in order to space out students and meet the 25 percent capacity limit put in place by Murphy. The board expects him to label schools as exempt to that rule sometime soon. Feder stressed how these constantly changing requirements and limits will pose a major threat to the way that the board is able to plan out the school year.
“Whenever these rules change, it just throws a monkey wrench into our system. We have to reevaluate, reapply the input and see if that needle moves closer to open or closer to close,”
Feder said, “And every single input we get pushes us away from opening, and that is justdriving us nuts.”
The board is currently preparing this plan on a strained budget, according to Feder. The district has lost two million dollars for this year due to a cut in state aid, along with a loss of revenue from being unable to rent out school facilities and host a summer camp. The estimated cost for all the PPE for South Brunswick schools is around $300,000. The board has received over
$363,000 from the CARES act as well as half a million dollars in grant money. Feder said that this funding is still not enough to keep up with the costs to prepare the school.
Recently, Feder has been critical of the state’s demand that all schools re-open in the fall. Last month, Feder published an open letter with a list of demands and standards that should be met before schools re-open. Parents and students will have the opportunity to express their thoughts on the school board’s re-entry plan at an online forum on August 10 and 11.