NEWTON, NJ- Newton schools will have early dismissal on Friday, March 13 and Monday, March 16. This time will be used by staff to plan for up to two weeks of “guided learning experiences” should health department officials require schools to close.
Superintendent Kennedy Green said these plans are being created following the recommendation of the New Jersey Department of Education Commissioner Lamont Repollet. On March 5 Repollet sent a letter to superintendents across the state with the recommendation and information that having an adequate plan will allow districts will mean a closure will not be counted against the 180-day requirement.
Greene said the district had been following an enhanced cleaning protocol since January in response to communication from the health communication. He said this was normal for the district when nurses begin to report an increase in colds and flu.
He said this protocol includes cleaning all surfaces every day instead of once a week. Additionally the cleaning products are verified to deal with the coronavirus.
The superintendent had two conference calls on the topic, one with the health commissioner and the other with Repollet.
“They kicked us into action to review action plans to prepare for a closure,” Greene said. The staff is responding well to the changing circumstances.
Greene said, “Having a task gives us something to work on. Sharing information helps to keep worry away.”
The county superintendents met on Monday afternoon with the Executive County Superintendent Rosalie Lamonte to discuss the protocols the Department of Health would use to close. They also discussed what educational elements the plans for guided learning should include.
Lamonte will review the districts’ plans to make sure they meet guidelines to ensure the district will receive credit for any closure days. Greene said Lamonte will not be approving plans, simply reviewing.
Greene said Newton also met with the sending districts to “make sure we are all on the same page.”
He said Newton had a draft of their plan done on Tuesday and were putting the finishing touches on it with the expectation of submitting it to Lamonte on Wednesday.
“We have been having plenty of communication,” Greene said. "Sharing communication reduces speculation." He has posted several messages on the topic, as the situation warranted, with another going out Wednesday.
Greene said once the plan has been reviewed by Lamonte he will be releasing it for the public to read.