WARREN, NJ - Watchung Hills Regional High School shared some tentative details on Friday regarding their reopening plan.
Superintendent Dr. Elizabeth Jewett shared the following on Friday:
I hope you and your families are enjoying the summer and continue to be in good health. Our Reopening Teams, which include representatives from all key stakeholder groups and our local health official, have been very active over the past month. The input we have received from the Teams as well as the feedback we received from staff, parents, and students during our spring distance learning experience have been invaluable in helping us develop a framework for the fall. We appreciate your patience and understanding as we work through the development process for a thoughtful plan to reopen school. As you are likely aware, we continue to get new information and updated guidelines on a weekly, if not daily, basis, which has made the planning process even more difficult than we already anticipated it to be.
We are wrapping up the Reopening Team meetings this week and will be finalizing a draft plan to share with our Board committees next week and, subsequently, present publicly at a Board meeting to be scheduled the first week of August.
I know that you are awaiting details on a plan. At this time, I can share some tentative details; however, please be aware that these details are still tentative as we need to ensure that we are able to align all of the components of our plan - schedule, transportation, screening process, etc.- to ensure the health and safety of all staff and students. Additionally, we have the added challenge of trying to develop a schedule that is coordinated with our K-8 districts for transportation purposes and for families who have students at both the K-8 and high school levels.
Here are some initial TENTATIVE details regarding components of our draft plan:
1. We are currently working on a hybrid instructional plan that separates students into two cohorts - A & B. Students in one cohort will attend school in person while students in the other cohort will participate virtually. We are still examining different options for the rotation of each cohort as each has benefits and drawbacks.
2. While staff members will be in school for the full day, we are looking at an early dismissal schedule for students. The afternoon time will be used in a variety of ways, including, but not limited to additional support for students and professional development for our staff focused on the implementation of a hybrid instructional model.
3. While an early dismissal schedule alleviates the issue of our having to develop a plan for safely facilitating a lunch period for students, we realize it is unrealistic to expect students not to need to drink or eat during the 5+ hours between when they leave home in the morning and return home in the afternoon. Therefore, we are exploring options for a snack time for students (utilizing outdoor spaces and large indoor spaces during inclement weather).
4. We are currently working with our local health official on finalizing screening guidelines for students and staff. We are also updating our Student Handbook regarding appropriate expectations and consequences related to our new health and safety guidelines.
Once we finalize our plan and it is approved by the Board of Education, communication regarding expectations to all stakeholders will be essential. We will also be issuing another survey to parents regarding the 100% distance learning option that parents now have the option of selecting for their children as per Governor Murphy’s most recent guidance.
Thank you for the patience and flexibility you have demonstrated since distance learning commenced in March. I wish you all a wonderful remainder of your summer and continued good health.
Elizabeth C. Jewett, Ph.D.