ROXBURY, NJ – Meeting remotely for the first time, the Roxbury School Board on Monday voted to change the district calendar, switching to 4-day school weeks in lieu of a spring break.
The board’s unanimous decision is in response to a recent survey of parents conducted by the district. More than 80 percent of the 1,876 people who participated in the survey said they favored the plan.
Roxbury schools have been closed since March 16 to curtail the spread of the coronavirus causing COVID-19. Teaching is taking place through online interaction between students and teachers.
During Monday’s meeting, which took place on a WebEx online meeting platform, only one board member, Dan Masi, expressed some concern about the effect of canceling spring break, originally scheduled to take place April 13-April 17.
“I know there are feelings on both sides of the equation,” Masi said. “As a household, we voted in favor. So, we’re one of the 80 percent. But I did so with a bit of an assumption and I guess I want to test that assumption.”
Pointing out that his children have “been working really, really hard … sometimes harder than they have been working throughout the regular school year,” Masi questioned the wisdom of “taking away a well-deserved, well-needed break.”
He said he voted for the change because students, and teachers, will still get some time to relax – given the 3-day weekends. But he was concerned about whether they’ll actually be able to use the extra day to get completely away from school work.
“Are we saying that we’re going to give 3-day weekends, and we really want the kids to not have a ton of work during those weekends; not have any work during those weekends? I’m not really sure what the thinking here is,” Masi said.
Roxbury Schools Superintendent Loretta Radulic said many students and teachers are spending long days, often into the evening, making the remote teaching work.
“So the idea of the 3-day weekend is truly to give people a break,” she said. “That is the purpose and the hope for these 3-day weekends ... It will definitely give people the opportunity to unplug a little bit and have that choice to say, ‘I’m not doing anything today. Today’s my day off.’”
Board member Heather Champagne said an extended spring break would likely disrupt the strange “new normal” thrust on students, parents and teachers thanks to COVID-19. Going away from the learn-from-home schedule for a week and then returning to it “would be a huge disruption,” she said.
The board's first attempt at conducting a remote meeting went off without any major problems. About a dozen members of the public signed-in for the session which saw board members and district staff communicating from their homes and offices.
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