The fall semester for the upcoming 2020-21 school year in the Bordentown Regional School District will feature students splitting time between going into school for in-person classes and doing virtual learning in the district’s efforts to keep everyone safe because of the coronavirus pandemic.
According to Bordentown Regional High School Principal Robert Walder, the school district submitted a hybrid plan to the state last week for the upcoming school that they feel meets the requirements handed down by Gov. Phil Murphy.
The plan for all the schools is the district is to split students up by alphabetical order into two groups, Group A and Group B.
Group A will go into school in the morning for three hours of in-person instruction, while Group B will have virtual learning that afternoon for three hours. They will switch the following day with Group B going into school for in-person classes and Group A doing virtual learning.
All teachers will be required to have an in-person and virtual learning component to their curriculum.
The three hours of in-person classes will allow custodians to clean and sanitize the building thoroughly before the other group enters the school the following day.
“We feel that we have met our objective to provide our students with the learning experience they need in a safe manner,” Walder said. “This plan limits students from Group A and Group B from crossing paths and interaction with each other. We are moving in a delicate manner to make sure our students and faculty are safe and that we can provide our students with the education they deserve.”
The plan was headed by Superintendent Dr. Edward Forsthoffer, who created a committee of people from all departments in the school district with parents also included in the panel, Walder said.
Forsthoffer separated the committee into four subgroups: wellness, instruction, facilities and personnel.
Each subgroup would discuss each subject and find the best ways each school could accommodate those areas for in-person classes and virtual learning based on the guidelines set down from the state
The plan has also been sent out to parents and people in the Bordentown community.
Expanding the high school’s virtual learning component is something that Walder and his staff have been focusing on this summer.
Walder said that the school has explored using different Google platforms for online learning this upcoming school year and have requested the help of a technology company to help the staff become more acquainted with new resources online that they can use to educate their students.
The company will hold webinars during the month of August for teachers to attend. If a teacher is unable to attend a webinar that day, Walder said there will be a video presentation of the webinar for the teacher to review on their own.
“We feel that we have developed a vigorous academic component that meets the needs of our students,” Walder said. “We’re going to provide our staff with the tools they need to be ready before school starts in September.”
Students must be medically screened before entering the building and all personnel and students will have their temperature taken everyday when they come to school, Walder said.
The principal added that the district has purchased a bulk of thermometers, masks, face shields, plexiglass, gloves and hand sanitizer for each school.
Teachers, guidance counselors and other staff members will have a plexiglass shield on their desk to keep them safe and socially distant when talking to others up close.
On July 20, Gov. Phil Murphy announced that parents will be given the option to select an all-remote learning plan for their children if they do not want to send their youngsters for in-person education in the new academic year. Additional details regarding this option are expected to be forthcoming from the New Jersey Department of Education.
The high school began Phase 1 of its summer workouts for fall sports under the return to play guidelines made by the NJSIAA on July 27.
The first day of school for the district is set for Sept. 3.