NEW PROVIDENCE, NJ - Hybrid schedules, masks, temperature checks and limited social interactions await New Providence school students come September. Superintendent David Miceli along with the administrative team laid out the basic reopening plan for the next school year at the Thursday, July 23 Board of Education (BOE) meeting. The meeting was held at the High School Media Center for the first time since the March lockdown. Some seats were spread out for the public at the school, but the meeting was made available via Zoom as well. At one point close to 300 parents, staff and members of the community had joined in the meeting.

Miceli pointed out that during his 17 years in New Providence the district has never encountered the challenges that the educators, parents and students are facing today. He thanked everyone for their patience as the district has been working on its reopening plan. He especially commended the Pandemic Response Teams, the District Restart Committee as well as the BOE for their dedication and hard work. He noted that the health and safety of the students and staff is the number one priority for the district. Yet, the district is committed in maintaining the integrity of its instructional programs and keeping students engaged. He also pointed out that the reopening plan is formulated in accordance with the Department of Health (DOH) and Department of Education (DOE) guidelines.

Students in grades 1-12 will have a hybrid schedule according to which half of students will attend school and half of them will study remotely on alternative days in order to accommodate social distancing. Students will stay at school until midday, after which they will have an hour break for lunch and travel. The learning continues in the afternoon remotely. There will be no lunch at school. The social interactions with students will be limited as there will be no lining up outside or in the hallways. All students will proceed to their classrooms immediately upon arrival. All elementary school students will remain in their classrooms all day, only the teachers will switch classes during the day. Only exception are gym classes which will be conducted outdoors as often as possible. The afternoon zoom classes are mandatory to all students.

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Some students with medical conditions or due to parents’ requests will only participate in school remotely. Pre-school classes and all kindergarten classes will be run as an in-classroom instruction only. The kindergarten classrooms are typically larger and therefore the social distancing can be accommodated. However, the kindergarten students will stay in their assigned desks during the school day.

Parents submitted multiple questions to the board on a variety of issues, from elementary school snack time to after school care, from counseling and mental wellness to supervision and so on. The district will inform students and parents of more details regarding the school year in the coming weeks prior to the start of the year. There will also be a manual for parents so that they can help their children with remote learning.

Additionally, Director of Athletics Vincent Carangelo explained the state of fall sports. The phase-1 practices will start on August 8. The official start date for the fall season is Sept. 14. He noted that there will be a two-week period with no practices at the start of the school year. There will be no state level competition this year.