ROXBURY, NJ – Students in Roxbury’s public schools, forced to receive remote instruction since March when school buildings were shuttered due to COVID 19, will return to classrooms for 2½ hours each day when school opens this fall, according to the latest plan.
In addition to the 2½ hours of “in-person instruction” each day, students will be required to attend 1½ hours of virtual instruction at home, said Roxbury Schools Superintendent Loretta Radulic in a June 30 letter to parents and guardians.
“While this is the plan, please keep in mind that in our current climate plans can change quickly,” cautioned Radulic. “It is my intention to keep our community as informed as possible.”
While in school buildings, students will face many “new protocols to address health concerns,” Radulic said. These will include being subjected to having their body temperatures taken in special kiosks.
There will also be hand sanitizing stations, mask protocols, social distancing, “minimized transactions,” more extensive cleaning and disinfecting of classrooms and common areas and more, she said.
A Balancing Act
“In designing our plan for a soft opening in September, we centered upon four key elements: instruction, consistency for families, an opportunity for our teachers to build a rapport and develop relationships with our students, and health/sanitation,” wrote the superintendent.
She also warned that a full return to remote-only instruction might be required, “given the nature of COVID-19,” but said she at least wants to try to get students back in front of their teachers in classrooms to some extent.
Radulic said there is a “bond that only happens in person between caring teachers and curious students.”
The letter was met with criticism by a number of parents who participate in a Facebook group focused on Roxbury schools. Many said the plan would be a hardship for parents who work, especially if they return to jobs out of their homes.
'Too Much Moving Around'
Succasunna resident Laurel Whitney, who was a member of the Roxbury-Mount Arlington Consolidation Study Commission, wrote a letter to Radulic in which she listed a number of potential problems with the return-to-school plan.
Whitney said a better plan would be to have students return to classrooms on alternating days.
In the letter, Whitney praised Radulic’s attempt at “early communication and being creative,” but said she thinks the plan “is not sustainable from any standpoint vs an alternating day.”
She suggested the current play will add to transportation and cleaning costs, be “impossible for working parents of younger children to accommodate,” require “too much moving around” and leave students with no in-classroom days of regular length “making it harder to acclimate when things do get back to normal.”
The district appears open to parent/guardian input on the plan. In the letter Radulic includes links to several surveys, including one related to the proposed return to in-person instruction.
To download Radulic’s full letter, click here.
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