UNION, NJ – Contingency plans regarding senior activities for Union high school students graduating this year are being reviewed, said Union High School Interim Principal Mark Hoyt.

Hoyt said the administration and Senior Class Advisors are working weekly to develop contingency plans in the event the shutdown continues.  “Unfortunately, we are up in the air about a number of things right now pending decisions from the federal, state, and local governments,” Hoyt said to TAPinto Union.  “We are monitoring those decisions and making plans, but we need to wait and see what happens.”

Hoyt said no definitive plans can be made immediately, but “we will be having a graduation ceremony so we can celebrate student accomplishments”.  However, he said the prom, senior trip, and Project Graduation are “up in the air”.

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Hoyt said distance learning is posing some challenges for students and staff. “Every day we evaluate the distance learning protocols and see what we can do to improve them,” he said.  Last week, he said, in response to student and parent concerns, the school revised their instructional program to alternate days for instruction by department/course. “The hope is that this will allow students to maintain a learning oriented mindset rather than a task oriented mindset, thereby improving educational outcomes.” 

Instruction by teachers is progressing as they also navigate the Distance Learning plan, said Hoyt.  “The teachers are constantly looking for new ways to engage students and interact with them,” he said. Many teachers have been sharing their ideas and resources with their colleagues, Hoyt added, and “I am thrilled with the efforts they are all making. They have all been available via email throughout the process and many have had the opportunity to utilize the Google platforms to interact more individually with the students.”

Hoyt said he has received a great deal of positive feedback from parents regarding the implementation of distance learning plan. He added they have also had a number of parents express concern and frustration.  “ We work very hard to address their concerns immediately,” he said.  “I know how frustrating and stressful this ordeal is for everyone and our goal is to mitigate the anxiety level of everyone so that we can focus on learning and instruction. Everyone is anxious to return to school and our typical instruction. In the meantime, patience and understanding by our students, families, and staff is greatly appreciated.”