WEST ESSEX, NJ — As the last board of education meeting of the 2019-2020 school year began, Superintendent Damion Macioci took the opportunity to reflect on a year like no other. 

In a prepared statement Macioci said: “Thank you to the West Essex faculty and staff for their perseverance this year.  None of us expected school to close in March for the entire school year.  Despite the unexpected, the staff really stepped up and came together for the benefit of our students.   Thank you to our West Essex families for their patience, understanding, and cooperation through these challenging months.” 

The Superintendent then addressed the students.  He continued: “I’m sorry you were deprived of many exciting opportunities.  Especially our seniors who lost out on a year that was meant to be filled with memories and closure to four years at West Essex High School, and six years for those who attended our middle school.

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Thank you to our BOE members for their tremendous efforts and for their continuous support. This board cares deeply about our school community and is fully committed to providing our students with the best experience possible.  I want to thank the board committees for the outstanding work they have done; all have put in many hours, especially during this pandemic.”  

Board of Education President Mary Adele Wojtowicz confirmed plans for graduation.  Wojtowicz stated that after the administration reviewed the results of surveys that went out to the students and parents, the results indicated that the students overwhelming voted that they have the opportunity to graduate together after having missed out on so many senior year activities.  Currently the Executive Order that the district is relying upon allows for a maximum of 500 in attendance as of July 6th.  The graduation will be held on July 9th (rain date July 10th) and only students may attend.  However, in the event that a new Executive Order is executed expanding the maximum amount of 500 individuals per event, the district will be able to accommodate more guests and parents will then be invited.  The graduation ceremony will be livestreamed. 

Wojtowicz commented that the Senior Car Parade that was held on Tuesday had nearly 100% student participation and it was a “wonderful turnout”.  Wojtowicz and Macioci thanked the members of the four sending district’s police departments, the West Essex First Aid Squad, members of the fire departments, administrators and staff for their combined efforts that provided this unique opportunity for the Class of 2020.

Macioci remarked that the campus was decorated with balloons and signs, a DJ played, and yearbooks were distributed.  He also thanked the Class of 2018 for contributing to the cost of the t-shirts distributed to the seniors.   The students also received the letters they wrote to themselves in 8th grade as they drove pass the middle school.  The PTO ensured that all graduates received a $20 gift card to Target.  The Superintendent further commented that the teaching staff, advisors, and support staff lined up around the campus to cheer the students on as they drove by which “brought smiles to everyone as they cheered them on.”

As the administration attempts to plan for next September, Macioci noted that West Essex like other districts across the state have received no guidance yet on what a school day will look like this Fall so the administrative team is preparing for various scenarios. Macioci confirmed that “Planning and preparation for the Fall is a priority and we are awaiting guidance from the Governor and NJDOE”.

The Superintendent indicated that there may be remote learning in September, in school classes with safeguards, or a hybrid of both.  He stated: “There are a lot of unknowns.  As soon as information becomes available, we will share it with the community.”  It was reported that Governor Murphy will announce plans for school’s opening in September on Friday, June 26, 2020.