SCOTCH PLAINS/FANWOOD, NJ -- A group of parents of elementary school students have started an online petition in hopes of achieving 5-day in-school sessions when the academic year begins in September. The petition follows the announcement of the SPFK12 District's hybrid plan on Sunday that spelled out that students would be separated into "A" and "B" groups and would learn from home on the days when the alternate group is at school for instruction.
Posted on Change.org, the petition is entitled SPF Elementary School Parents in Support of 5-day in School Single Sessions. The parents of elementary students K-4 request that superintendent Dr. Joan Mast and the Board of Education (BOE) offer:
- 5-day, in-person, single sessions for grades K-4;
- Afternoon virtual learning for students would be optional for K-2;
- Reassessment of the plan every 45 days to measure success and amend as required;
- Virtual Learning with a preference of “live learning” would be offered to accommodate the 20% of families that chose that option.
The parents believe their proposal aligns with districts such as Cranford, Summit, Chatham, Kenilworth, and Berkeley Heights. They also state that "the complexity of the current plan presents undue burdens including scheduling, financial, and otherwise on a large majority of the District parents; working, single, or otherwise." The petitioners say that due to the need for outside care, all parents will have to "make it work” and claim that debunks Dr. Mast’s statements that “hybrid models and cohorts reduce community spread.”
This will lead to additional & unnecessary exposure from outside the classroom to school our kids. Working parents will have to choose incremental support from YMCA, JCC and local Daycare Centers to cover afternoon and virtual learning days, thereby increasing exposure for students, teachers, and families. -- Change.org online petition
The parents maintain that their concern is that their children will suffer the greatest impact as a result of the "fractured learning structure."
In an interview with TAPintoSPF on Sunday, Dr. Mast explained that while she has been monitoring what other districts are doing, she put forth what she believes is the best course of action to accommodate the 80% of parents who responded to a survey saying that they wanted the academic year to resume with "some form of in-class instruction." Only 20% of parents indicated that they did not want to send their children to school and preferred the option extended by Gov. Phil Murphy to keep students home for all-virtual learning if they chose.
Dr. Mast also said that each district is unique in its school buildings, class sizes, and busing situations. (For instance, the Summit school district does not have busing, and that cost factor is not part of their planning.)
"Kids will be engaged and accountable. Administrators checking in on them to make sure they are okay. We need everyone to be involved so that kids are okay." -- Dr. Joan Mast
You can read the entire interview with Dr. Mast here: Scotch Plains-Fanwood SPFK12 District Announces In-Class Instruction Schedule for Its Hybrid Model.
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