ROXBURY, NJ – About a week after announcing it, Roxbury school administrators appear to be backing off a plan for a  return to classrooms this fall that called for students to spend 2½ hours each day at school then return home for 1½ hours of virtual instruction.

In a July 10 message to parents and guardians of students, Roxbury Schools Superintendent Loretta Radulic said the return-to-school plan announced July 1 met with significant opposition.

“The only way to develop a plan for re-opening is to develop one,” Radulic said in her latest letter. “Therefore, we did and you provided your input. I sincerely appreciate that and while no plan will be perfect, it is clear that the proposed plan will not be effective for our community.“

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Radulic said a new survey related to the issue will be made available July 16. Parents and guardians are being asked to answer the questions by noon July 22.

Most Parents Want Kids in Classrooms

“If this year has taught us anything, it’s how to be flexible and that we are all in this together,” wrote the superintendent.

She said the school district received 948 responses to the prior survey. The respondents overwhelmingly said they want students to return to school in the fall, Radulic said.

“At this time, over 85 percent of families are planning to send their children to school, a change from 78 percent in the prior survey in June,” she said. “Staff also participated in a survey and indicated that 96 percent of our educators are looking forward to returning to the classroom and nearly 100 percent of the bus drivers who took the survey are planning to return in September.”

In her July 1 letter Radulic said a reopening of Roxbury schools will require quite a few changes related to taking precautions due to the coronavirus that is causing COVID-19.

Those “new protocols to address health concerns,” will include being subjected to having the students’ body temperatures taken in special kiosks. Also being planned are hand sanitizing stations, mask protocols, social distancing, “minimized transactions,” more extensive cleaning and disinfecting of classrooms and common areas and more, Radulic said on July 1.

Many Are OK With Face Coverings in Class

In her latest letter, the superintendent said those protocols did not receive unanimous support from parents and teachers.

“Approximately 68 percent of our teachers stated that they were comfortable wearing masks while teaching and 77 percent of parents are comfortable having their children in masks to learn,” she said. “There are a number of concerns regarding masks that will be addressed at a later date as we continue planning. This data illustrates that, overall, this community is prepared to return to school, but we have a plethora of decisions to make before that time.”

The new survey will include several re-opening options and a pros and cons list.

“Your vote is important,” Radulic said. She said there will be a “full presentation” of the new data at the July 27 meeting of the Roxbury School Board.

“Hearing the concerns of the community and reviewing survey results of both families and staff prompted additional evaluation of the previous plan,” Radulic said. “Moreover, we are gaining a clearer picture of our staff’s needs. While we have some staff who will not be able to return due to underlying health concerns, 96 percent of staff surveyed are capable and excited to return.”

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