MONROE – Monroe school officials presented their proposed hybrid in-person back-to-school plan, which provides consistency in each school building.
Schools Superintendent Dori Alvich led the “Restart and Reopening Plan” presentations – Monroe Township High School on Aug. 4, Monroe Township Middle School on Aug. 5 and elementary schools on Aug. 6. All presentations were recorded and are on the district’s website.
The presentations were in response to the New Jersey Department of Health’s guidance document “The Road Back – Restart and Recovery Plan for Education” released on June 26.
The plan requires districts to provide for a return to in-person education in some capacity for fall 2020.
“We have surveyed parents and staff for input on the various options for reopening and have incorporated their feedback into our plans,” Alvich said.
Per the governor’s announcement on Aug. 12 that certain districts could apply for full remote learning, Alvich said, “It is not changing our plans as of today [Aug. 12], but we will review the documentation from the state for requirements when we receive it.”
School officials said the district does not have enough devices for 1:1; however, they will work with individual families who are in need of devices and internet access.
Assignments for the high school will be found in Schoology and assignments for middle and elementary schools will be found in Google Classroom.
Special education students in all grades will have the option to attend in-person session five days a week.
Monroe Township High School
Students, whether they select 100% remote or decide for the proposed hybrid in-person plan, will receive the same level of instruction from their teachers, Principal Kevin Higgins said, adding students would be able to keep their current high school schedule when school begins on Sept. 3.
School officials said teaching and learning will not be like the spring semester, which was conducted in a crisis situation when the district had a few days to prepare for remote learning in March due to the novel coronavirus pandemic.
“There will be teaching and learning with fidelity with a lot of expectations from teachers and from students,” Higgins said. “No student will be at a disadvantage for their grades, GPA in one model or another.”
The proposed reopening scenario for the high school would begin in phases. Phase 1 includes virtual instruction for all students in grades 9-12. Some 500 to 600 students are proposed to be part of in-person for Phase 1 while everyone else would be remote learning.
School officials said the number will vary depending on students who elect 100% remote learning.
Students not part of Phase 1 and who have not opted to learn 100% from home would be placed in cohorts, or groups, as part of Phase 2, which is expected to begin at the end of September or early October.
Cohorts will be scheduled on a rotating basis for students to come back to school as health guidelines allow. Depending on how many student opt for in-person learning there could be four cohorts attending school once or twice a week or three cohorts attending school two to three times a week.
Phase 3 includes increasing the number of students in the building daily as health guidelines allow.
The school day begins at 7:27 a.m. and is proposed to include 60-minute blocks with five minutes in between classes, whether in person or remote.
In-person students will be dismissed at 11:27 a.m. From 1-2:15 p.m. there will be a virtual teach-led study/tutoring session.
Monroe Township Middle School
In-person instruction for all students will be based on a purple and gold rotation. Students will be assigned a cohort color based on last name.
Students in the purple cohort will report to in-person instruction on Mondays and Tuesdays and alternate Wednesdays. Students in the gold cohort will report to in-person instruction on Thursdays and Fridays and alternate Wednesdays. Students whose color is not in school will be able to consult their teachers in the afternoon after they have worked from home on assignments and tasks assigned during in-person instruction days.
Added support and related services will be provided in-person and remote. Afterschool academic supports will be available on the same schedule.
Students on 100% remote learning will complete six periods of instruction for all subjects in a four-hour morning session. A two-hour afternoon session will allow students to have a one-to-one or small group session with teachers and time for enrichment, intervention and independent work.
Virtual clubs will be held from 2:45-4:15 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays for all students beginning mid-to-late October. The Talented and Gifted program will begin Oct. 20.
The kindergarten class will be split into a morning and afternoon cohort. Each student will be assigned to a cohort and a group of either gold or purple. Each cohort will have a four-hour in-person instruction week of two to three days a week in school and one week of remote learning.
Students who elect 100% remote learning will learn 2.5 hours, five days a week.
Students in the first to fifth grades will be assigned a cohort and a group of either gold or purple. Each cohort will have an in-person instruction week of two to three days a week in school.
There will be a four-hour morning session and a one-hour afternoon session. Students whose color is not in school will be able to consult their teachers in the afternoon after they have worked from home on assignments and tasks assigned during in-person instruction days.
Students who elect 100% remote learning will also follow a four-hour morning session and a one-hour afternoon session.
Instruction and Athletics
Consistent and focused instruction in all areas are driving forces in the fall, school officials said.
The district has increased expectations for the remote learning times to include live interaction between students and teachers daily.
Science labs in high school and middle school will be conducted virtually or as a demonstration from the teacher. Danielle Drust, high school science coordinator, said they plan for a robust science curriculum where students would be given data to work with even though they might not be able to get hands-on experience in the classroom.
Mathematics will be heavier on instruction during the live instruction class period, with the option of returning to afternoon session for questions about practice.
Students in person scheduled for physical education are expected to dress comfortably. There will be no locker room use.
For athletics at the high school, the district recommends an initial one-month season, which began on Aug. 3 and runs through Aug. 28. After, athletes will follow mandatory virtual practice sessions from Aug. 29 to Sept. 14 before the official fall athletic season start.
Athletics at the middle school will be intramural with a small potential for interscholastic games.
Special areas including general music, band and chorus will continue as planned. Special informational sessions will be held at the end of August for incoming fourth graders, who missed out on learning about band and chorus at the end of their third grade.
Falcon Care will be offered to K-5 students at all six elementary schools as health guidelines and personnel allow.
Health and Safety measures
Daily screening for all staff and students, including a screening questionnaire, will be completed online before coming to school. Temperature checks will be conducted at the door of all buildings.
All students and staff, who are able to, must wear masks while on buses and in district buildings. Students will wash hands or use hand sanitizer upon entering the building. Desks will be at least 6 feet apart as much as possible. Plexiglass partitions will be used if the distance cannot be maintained.
If an infected person has been in a school building, school officials will work with local health officials and follow Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines. All students and staff will be dismissed for remote learning for two to five days to gain a better understanding of the COVID-19 situation impacting the school.
School officials encourage students to practice wearing masks before the start of school.
Classrooms, restrooms, buses and high-touch surfaces will be cleaned throughout the day with electrostatic cleaners and eco-friendly cleaners whenever possible. The heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems will run at maximum fresh air capacity, weather-permitting.
Outside spaces will be used for class meetings as much as possible.
Alvich said every aspect of the proposed plan is flexible, and dependent on staffing and health conditions. The district will continue to monitor all updates and make adjustments as needed.
“This challenge has definitely shown the creativity of educators across the country and here in Monroe Township,” she said. “Although the school year is not expected to be business as usual, I am confident that our staff will do whatever is in their power to offer an exemplary education to all of our students while keeping everyone as safe as we can. As always, we are adding updated information to our district website regarding this topic and all matters related to our school district.”
For more information, visit www.monroe.k12.nj.us. Questions and concerns can be sent to email@example.com.