NEW PROVIDENCE, NJ – The Board of Education (BOE) provided a detailed restart and reopening plan for the upcoming school year at its Thursday, Aug. 27 meeting. The school will be a much different place for students, staff and parents than before the pandemic began in March. Superintendent David Miceli and Board President Bernadette Cuccaro thanked the administrative team, teachers’ association, teachers and other staff members, including the technology staff, for their efforts to get the schools ready for the Sep. 8 opening. They also commended the district’s Pandemic and Restart Teams for their dedication.
Miceli explained that the guiding principles for the reopening plan are health and safety, communications, learning, engagement, wellness and empathy. He also listed the ten “critical areas” of the new procedures, which are:
- General Health and Guidelines
- Classrooms, Testing, and Therapy Rooms
- Student Flow, Entry, Exit, and Common Areas
- Screening, PPE, and Response to Students and Staff Presenting Symptoms
- Contact Tracing (administered by the Department of Health)
- Facilities Cleaning Practices
- Recess/Physical Education
- Field Trips, Extra-Curricular Activities, and Use of Facilities Outside the School Hours.
Assistant Superintendent Lauren Zirpoli provided an overview of the acknowledgement and consent form letter that will be sent out to all parents and guardians on Sep. 1. Parents are asked to thoroughly read all symptoms of Covid-19 and understand that if a child exhibits one or more of the listed symptoms, he or she cannot attend school. Parents are also asked to acknowledge protocols in the event the child tests positive for Covid-19 or is sent home from school when sick. The letter also explains screening procedures, face covering as well as attendance reporting rules.
Athletic Director Vincent Carangelo provided a chart for easier understanding of the potential Covid-19 symptoms and the required protocol in case a student or staff member exhibits one or more symptoms.
Jay Richter, Director of Curriculum, Instruction, and Supervision explained the resources that will be available for students, teachers and parents. There will be “numerous platforms” available for in-person, hybrid and online learning models, he said. He thanked the professional staff and especially the technology staff for their input in preparation for the school year. A special attention is given to enable students and teachers to foster personal relationships in the new learning environment as this is “a key” for students moving forward, he said.
School Business Administrator James Testa explained the grab and go lunch procedures, which requires pre-ordering and prepayment. According to the survey over 50 percent of the families are interested in participating in the lunch program. At the high school and the middle school students will pick up their prepackaged lunches on their way out. In elementary schools the pre-ordered lunches will be distributed in the classroom at the end of the day.
Testa also explained the measures the district has taken to ensure proper ventilation and air circulation with a fresh air component throughout the school buildings as required by the state. Additionally, the district has carried out a third party assessment of the interior rooms. The report should be available shortly. He noted that based on the recommendations the instructional rooms’ ventilation upgrades will be prioritized.