MAPLEWOOD, NJ — Superintendent Dr. Ronald Taylor addressed questions about the decision to modify the virtual schedule for students in grades K-8 that began this week.
Deborah Engel, Tuscan parent and Board of Education candidate, asked Taylor during the public speaks portion of the South Orange Maplewood Board of Education meeting to expound on the decision-making process for the changes to the schedule for grades K-2. Specifically, she asked why there was no parent survey this time and posed the idea of having synchronous and asynchronous options available to the students to be more accommodating for all students and their families. Engel suggested K-5 could stay in a four-hour school day. Dr. Taylor confirmed that teachers were consulted, just as they were for the initial remote learning plan.
“There were concerns around expanding that four-hour day, for our youngest learners, to a full day. There were concerns about the need for more breaks as students begin to take on their academics virtually,” said Taylor.
He also said that a teacher had pointed out that this year's first grade class did not have a full year of kindergarten and a second-grader did not have a full year of first grade last year. The pandemic has made teachers have to shift their plans in terms of reviewing what students learned the previous year.
“We wanted to make sure that our students have an age appropriate virtual learning experience,” Taylor said.
Under the new schedule for K-2 students will have synchronous learning every day until noon. After lunch the asynchronous ‘special’ classes like music, art and P.E. will begin; because they are asynchronous they allow for the student and family to set their own schedule. The new schedules were phased in on Sept. 21 when hybrid learning was originally supposed to start.
The full list of schedule changes for students in grades K-8 and a letter from Dr. Taylor is available on the SOMSD website.
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