BLOOMFIELD, NJ – The time has come for Bloomfield Public Schools' students to step foot back into district classrooms for the first time in over 13 months as pre-kindergarten through 6th grade pupils transition to Hybrid Instruction beginning this Monday, April 19.

“A year ago when we sent teachers home, we had a 1:1 initiative, but no way did we think we were going to be out for a year, and that’s what two weeks turned into – to go from a 1:1 (initiative) to a virtual all-day every day for a year with no preparation, no staff development and no time to prepare was an amazing feat,” stated Bloomfield Schools Superintendent Sal Goncalves.  “That’s where my confidence comes from and that’s why I think we will be successful in this second hybrid phase.  I’ve been here for 45 years and I know this town pretty well, and I’ve seen a lot of dark times and a lot of happy times, and we will get through this, and we will rise to the occasion.  That’s who we are.”

The buildings were alive again this past week as Bloomfield teachers and staff returned to their respective schools on April 12 in anticipation of the students returning April 19.

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“During a global pandemic, people are scared, worried and depressed, and we didn’t have a lot of things that we were in control of during the state of emergency,” Goncalves said.  “When kids weren’t going to school, it wasn’t easy.  It was one domino falling after another.  I am cautious, but we are ready to go.  There was no playbook for this – teachers have experienced something they have never experienced before, as there hasn’t been a period in history or in our lifetime where we weren’t (in-person) for a year.”

Cohort A will begin hybrid instruction five days a week from 8:30 to 12:30 on Monday, April 19.

Cohort B will begin hybrid instruction five days a week from 8:30 to 12:30 on Monday, April 26.

All students will have lunch at home from 12:30 to 1:40 pm.  The afternoon blocks will be virtual for all students and will consist of synchronous and asynchronous work along with various activity periods.

“Twice, we have asked teachers to shift gears (and asked them) to do what they do completely different, and to be able to pull that off is pretty fantastic,” Goncalves continued.  “Teaching is not a perfect science, it is an art, and everyone brings their own skill-set and creativity to the table – we are dealing with humans, and we are dealing with children, and throw in a global pandemic on top of that and social unrest during last summer, it was devastating.”

While students remained virtual this past week, all schools begin the Hybrid schedule on April 12 to help give teachers the proper support and preparation to ensure students have a seamless transition upon their return to school.

All students in grades 7 through 12 will continue to attend school remotely, Mondays and Fridays, on a full-day schedule.  Students will be split into 3 cohorts (A through C) and attend one day a week on a half-day schedule.

“It’s all about what’s going on in the field and my job from this central office is clear as I need to get everyone out there what they need to be able to do their job,” added Goncalves.  “We are definitely coming back April 19, but we are watching all those indicators out there every day.  As we move forward, my confidence is at 100% and that’s because I have confidence in (our school system).  We have taken all the precautions and the buildings are ready.  You need to be back.  Things won’t be perfect, but everyone will lean on each other.  I am excited, and we are coming back.”

All students coming into Bloomfield Schools will be asked to complete a Daily COVID Pre-Screening Form.  Staff and community members entering the building will also fill out a COVID Form.

Any student who is not feeling well is asked to remain home for the day, as temperature screenings take place on-site.  All individuals registering a fever of 100 or above will be sent home and asked not to return until they are 24 hours fever-free.

Every building has been equipped with walk-through temperature scanners, which can monitor a crowd up to 70 people.  The buildings have also been equipped with handheld temporal scanners.

Facilities and maintenance department have developed a procedure manual, including schedules for increased cleaning and disinfection, targeted areas for weekly and daily disinfection, increased bathroom sanitization, and appropriate materials and cleaning supplies for use in schools.

The April 13 board of education meeting was live-streamed from the Bloomfield High School Media Center on WBMA-TV and the district Facebook Page.

Bloomfield Board of Education holds its next meeting on Tuesday, April 27 at the Bloomfield High School Library Media Center, and it will be live-streamed to the community.  The regular meeting begins at 6:30 pm in a closed executive session, with the public session beginning at 7:30 pm.

The April 27 meeting features a public hearing on the 2021-22 school budget.