BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ -- A survey of students, teachers and staff has brought changes to how many students attending schools in Berkeley Heights will be learning. The survey was distributed last week, according to a letter sent today to all parents in the district by Superintendent of Schools Melissa Varley.
For those at Governor Livingston High School (GL), beginning Monday, Nov. 9, the change will return students to a more "normal" schedule, even though they will continue to follow the same hybrid model they are now following - 50% of the students in school on an alternating week schedule. In-person morning instruction time will be extended from four to five hours to accommodate the wishes of the majority of teachers, 89%, and students, 81%, who said they wanted to return to the six period rotate and drop schedule. GL will hold classes from 7:50 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. -- no lunch. Afternoon sessions will continue to be remote, and will include labs, extra help and support sessions, according to the letter.
Parents who chose full remote learning for their children will continue with that arrangement. Parents of in-person students can expect the students to receive more direct instruction, according to the letter, and remote students can expect attention and support for their teachers.Given the changes, parents may decide to move their child to full remote learning. To do so, follow the link to Dr. Varley's letter, above, then fill out and submit the form by Oct. 28. Those who move their child or children to remote learning must continue to keep them in remote until “the next quarter or trimester break,” the letter reads. According to guidelines published on the district’s website, those dates are:
● Grades 6-12 can revert to in-person instruction at the start of each marking period on November 9, January 25, and April 5.
● Elementary students can revert to in-person instruction on November 2, January 19, March 8, and April 19.
● Parents must inform their building principal in writing 10 days prior to the re-entry date in order to move from remote to in-person learning.
Other changes are coming on Nov. 9 to both elementary and middle school students.
Students at Columbia Middle School (CMS) will also have extended morning hours and will return to the six period rotate and drop schedule. Classes will be held from 8:15 a.m. to 1 p.m., and there will be no lunch. Afternoon remote sessions will be the same as they are currently.
The change is greater for students in grades one through five, who will attend school in-person for half a day, with no lunch.
Dr, Varley said the decision to change to Plan A for students in grades one through five was made after administrators reviewed the result of a survey for those grades. According to the letter, elementary level educators responded they preferred “(85% in favor) to move to Plan A - all students in-person for half a day with no lunch.” The classrooms will be set up in such a way as to allow for “adequate social distancing” according to the letter. Maintaining six feet of distance between students may not always be possible, so to keep the district in compliance with state safety guidelines, each student will receive their own “protective barrier for their desk.” The barriers are portable and students may personalize them.
Full Day Kindergarten students remain on their same schedule. Parents of Pre-K and half-day Kindergarten students will receive more information next week about their schedule.