Parents have mixed opinions about reopening schools in Sayreville

SAYREVILLE – The Sayreville School District Board of Education is preparing to release a final plan for reopening the district’s schools on Aug. 25.

New Jersey’s schools were ordered to close in mid-March by Gov. Phil Murphy at the start of the 2020 coronavirus pandemic. For the remainder of the 2019-20 school year, students received a remote education at their homes.

Several weeks ago, Murphy directed school administrators to develop, in collaboration with community stakeholders, a plan to reopen schools for the 2020-21 school year in September in a manner that best fits a district’s local needs.

Schools in Sayreville are expected to open on Sept. 3.

Guidance from the governor’s office describes the health and safety practices administrators should prioritize, including social distancing, the wearing of face masks, limiting capacity in classrooms and an increase in sanitation and disinfecting of surfaces.

In Sayreville, Superintendent of Schools Richard Labbe said that members of the Board of Education have provided informal approval to a plan for reopening the schools and are scheduled to provide formal approval to a reopening plan during their Aug. 25 meeting.

The superintendent explained that the district’s Restart of School Plan was submitted to the New Jersey Department of Education (DOE) on July 30 and is currently awaiting DOE approval. The plan will be shared publicly once it is approved by the state.

According to Labbe, the district requested on July 10 that all stakeholders submit responses to an electronic survey in order for the district to gain a better understanding of their concerns, needs and priorities with regard to the reopening of schools for in-person instruction in September.

Labbe stated that a total of 3,164 individuals responded to the survey.

“According to the respondents, in which 73% were parents/guardians, approximately 49% were not comfortable with opening schools for in-person instruction, while 27% were comfortable and 24% were somewhat comfortable doing so,” he said. “Furthermore, 40% felt that virtual instruction was the instructional methodology that was most aligned with their concerns and needs at this current time and another 35% felt the same about virtual blended with in-person instruction.

“More specifically, 64% of the respondents identified ‘abbreviated in-person instructional day blended with a portion of virtual learning,’ as one of their top three models for restarting schools in September, 53% selected the ‘alternating abbreviated days of in-person instruction blended with a portion of virtual instruction and full virtual instruction days’ model, and 52% chose the ‘full day virtual instruction for all students every day’ model.

“Interestingly, at 39%, the majority of respondents selected ‘full virtual instruction for all students every day’ as their number one selection,” the superintendent said. “Conversely, ‘full day in-person instruction for all students every day’ was the second highest first choice at 25%.”