ROXBURY, NJ — Roxbury schools will start the new year in September offering students three options, all entailing at least some time at home, said Roxbury Schools Superintendent Loretta Radulic.

The options:

  • A mix of virtual and in-person instruction with four hours of in-classroom instruction two days each week and all Mondays being remote
  • Full virtual instruction at home
  • Withdrawing completely from the district to be homeschooled

In a letter to parents, Radulic said she presented the decision to the Roxbury School Board on Wednesday. The plan will be further discussed at a special virtual June 27 board meeting.

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“This decision represents our Phase I opening for September and is subject to change as per directives from the Governor’s Office, Department of Education and the Health Department,” wrote Radulic.

The “Hybrid In-person School Option” will involve alternating color-coded days when students will go to classrooms for four hours on either Tuesdays and Thursdays or Wednesdays and Fridays. All students will stay home on Mondays and be taught in remote fashion, similar to what took place this year after schools were closed in mid-March due to COVID-19.

Under the plan, Roxbury High School will be open from 7:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.; Eisenhower Middle School will be open from 8 a.m. to noon; Lincoln-Roosevelt School will be open from 8:40 a.m. to 12:40 p.m. and the district’s elementary schools will be open from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

The “Full Virtual Option” will entail no in-classroom instruction. Students will be taught by Roxbury teachers in remote fashion. “At this time, we are currently working on this full virtual instruction design,” wrote the superintendent. “In this environment, your child will receive virtual assignments, projects, and assessments.”

In a press release today, the state Department of Education issued “guidance” related to all-remote instruction. It said students participating in fully virtual education this fall “should receive the same quality of instruction that is provided to any other student,” adding that full-time remote programs “must adhere to the same policies and regulations that in-person and hybrid programs follow regarding student attendance and the length of the school day.”

Homeschooling, the other option to be offered in Roxbury, “requires the parent to sign their child(ren) out of the Roxbury Public School system,” Radulic noted. When that happens, “the district is not responsible to provide instruction or share curricular materials,” said the superintendent, adding that parents "may re-enroll their child at any time following normal transfer guidelines and may be assessed upon re-entry for grade/class placement.”

Noting that the choices made by parents will impact other students, transportation routes/schedules and teacher assignments, Radulic asked parents to log-in to each of their children’s Genesis Parent Portal accounts and complete the “2020-2021 School Year Questionnaire.”

The superintendent said the district will not be taking temperatures of students who come to class. She said this decision was based on “much debate, research, review of logistics, considerations for time constraints on academics, legal implications, and privacy concerns.”

“Instead, parents will be required to monitor and attest to students’ health by completing daily symptom checklists that will document one’s health prior to arriving in school,” Radulic wrote. “Parents are reminded that children who aren’t feeling well are to be kept at home.

Radulic began her letter sounding a bit like a military leader preparing troops for battle or a coach before a big game.

“The 2020-2021 school year will be a challenge,” she wrote. “That’s the truth of the matter. We will not have a sure footing or remain on solid ground for any length of time.”

She said parents should be ready for, and accept, changes.

“Temporary decisions that transition as new data and new realities are revealed will be the new typical,” Radulic warned. “We will see changes, face new obstacles and find strength and courage that we never knew existed. We will lean on each other, and we will find a way to make it work.”

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