SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ – The South Plainfield School District, according to administrators, is working to ensure plans are in place should its seven buildings need to close in the coming weeks due to the coronavirus (COVID-19).
“As of today, the state, county, and local office of Emergency Management have not placed any restrictions on our school district,” Superintendent Dr. Noreen Lishak said during the March 11 board of education meeting, noting that should South Plainfield Schools be directed to close, the district will enact its Pandemic Influenza Coronavirus Plan and students will be taught through Google Classroom and Google Meet with online instruction counting as part of the 180-day requirement.
“As we plan for a school closure that may or may not happen, guidance will be provided to the parents [in accordance] with guidelines from the New Jersey Department of Education…” she said.
Over the past week, numerous emails have been sent to parents informing them of the steps the district has been taking to be prepared with the most recent, sent on the evening of March 11, highlighting the technology plans in place for students in pre-K through 12th grade (https://bit.ly/39UMoPz). That same day, a faculty meeting was held to review plans and, tomorrow – Friday, March 13 – South Plainfield Schools will operate on an early dismissal schedule so that teachers can prepare online lessons and projects for both general education and special education students; dismissal times can be found online (http://spboe.org/for_parents/time_schedules) and after care program remaining open until 6 p.m. for those students registered.
In the event of a closure, said the superintendent, online instruction will be implemented and accessible by students through their personal Google Classroom and Google Meet accounts; log in will be required using their school-issued user names and passwords.
The ‘school day’ will run on an early dismissal schedule with students required to log in a four-hour period and district officials able to verify, on the back end, how long a student was logged in for as well as who was ‘absent’ on a particular day; just like a regular school day, robocalls will go out to inform parents/guardians in the event of a students’ absence. Please note: students who do not have access to the Internet will receive hardcopy work and should contact the respective principals.
Additionally, in the event of a closure, the district will continue to run its breakfast and lunch program; meals will be available through the district’s food services company Aramark to those who sign up for the week and have funds in their online account. For those who take the bus, meals will be delivered to combined stops along the bus route while all other students will be able to receive meals at their home schools. During the closure, however, no hot meals will be served.
“No one is prepared for this [but] we are working to be as best prepared as we can be…” said SPBOE President Doug Chapman, extending thanks to Lishak, the teachers, the administrators, and everybody else who have been working so hard over the past week to develop the best plan for South Plainfield students. “It’s been a lot of hard work…and let’s just keep our fingers crossed that we don’t have to enact it.”
Moving forward, the district plans to continue updating the community as information becomes available, with all correspondence coming via email and posted on the district’s website (www.spboe.org) and it's Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/spboe.org/).
Should the schools be required to close, Lishak stated that email will be the district’s main method of communication, and she encouraged parents and guardians to log into the Genesis Parent Portal and update their contact information.
“Communication is important so that we are able to supply information to our parents, guardians, and students as well faculty and staff about what we are doing,” she said.
Additionally, in the event of a closure, information on how to access online instruction videos, written instructions, and any additional information needed will be posted online at http://www.spboe.org/online_learning_portal and call in help center will be established.
“Everything is not going to be perfect. There are going to be hiccups. Be patient,” said Chapman. “Please don’t go and splatter all over the world how terrible the board of education is because the coronavirus throw us a big old curve ball.”
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