East Brunswick superintendent presents hybrid model for 2020-21 school year

EAST BRUNSWICK–Equipped with a more than 100-page document and video, Superintendent of Schools Victor Valeski announced the East Brunswick Public Schools District’s reopening plans for the fall semester.

“Since mid-March, when we all shifted to distance learning, we have been aggressively planning our reopening of schools. Earlier I assured you that every decision in our recovery phase would be framed by an analysis of the spaces we utilize for teaching, learning gathering and transporting placement, organization of students and staff in those spaces integration of medical, social and important emotional supports with academics, communication that is timely, accurate and consistent for families and township leaders, of course environmental safety, and lastly, security,” Valeski said in the video.

“Since that time, our plan has evolved to exceed the requirements mandated by directives from the Department of Education. I want to thank all the stakeholders who contributed to this plan, parents, staff, administration, East Brunswick Education Association, our principals and supervisors association, community leadership, and of course, our Board of Education.

“Everyone shared the same passion to make this plan the absolute best it can be under the conditions and constraints that we know at this time. The plan had to be flexible and adaptable as we know these constraints may likely change between now and our anticipated start at school.

“I pledge that we will implement this plan with compassion. We need to be deliberate and consistent with this plan’s implementation, but we all understand there will be a real learning phase during its roll out. Above all, safety will remain our dominant decision factor.

“Thank you to everyone who responded so quickly to our survey. It is clear that one choice doesn’t meet the needs of all families. In addition to the survey, some of you have reached out to me personally. Some of you are ready for your children returned to school. And some of you don’t feel ready to send them back yet. Maybe later, but not under the current conditions,” he said.

In fact, Valeski said the first two requirements on the Department of Education’s checklist for reopening schools, released on Aug. 3, are that schools implement a schedule for the 2020-21 school year that includes in-person instruction in some capacity, and provides public school facilities for at least 180 school days.

Valeski said the district must also incorporate a policy regarding full-time remote learning services in accordance with the Department of Education guidelines.

After a review of the entire reopening plan, parents will be permitted to choose between one of two different styles of instruction: either a hybrid approach which allows for some instruction in school and some instruction at home on a rotating schedule, or a full virtual learning approach.

Valeski said parents will be asked to complete their parent access forms by Aug. 14 to select which learning instruction model they want their child(ren) to be in for the first marking period.

On July 20, Gov. Phil Murphy gave parents the option of having their children learn remotely full time.

Valeski said virtual learning will look and feel different than it did in the spring.

“Students will all receive a district-issued device and all instructional will be delivered on one of two platforms,” Valeski said. “Google Classroom for grades K-7 and Canvas for grades 8-12. Instruction will be primarily synchronous, meaning that all students will have scheduled times to log in to connect with their teacher for live instruction throughout the day. Standard grading assessment and attendance policies will be enforced.”

Valeski said students in grades kindergarten through fifth grade, whose families choose the hybrid model, will come to school for two days in a row, be virtual for two days in a row, come to school for two days in a row, and continue that cycle.

“They will participate in in-person instruction with their teacher until dismissal at 1:15 p.m. After, students depart school and have appropriate time for lunch,” Valeski said. “They will have a final hour of instruction virtually regardless of whether they’re in school or in a virtual setting.”

Valeski said for elementary school students whose parents chose the hybrid schedule, students will be placed into either of two groups.

For week one schedule:

  • Group one will attend school in-person on Monday, Tuesday and Friday.
  • Group two will attend school in-person on Wednesday and Thursday.

For the following week or week two schedule:

  • Group one will attend school in-person on Monday, Thursday and Friday.
  • Group two will attend school in-person on Wednesday and Thursday.

Students whose parents chose to put them in the virtual/remote learning schedule will be placed in group three and will receive learning instruction for the five-day school week. For students who will receive all in-person learning will be placed in group four, according to Valeski.

“At Hammarskjold Middle School, Churchill Junior High School and East Brunswick High School, an attendance capacity of approximately 25% of the entire student body will be scheduled each day. Students whose family select a hybrid model will be broken into one of four groups,” Valeski said.

Valeski said for secondary school students whose parents chose the hybrid schedule, students will be placed into one of four groups.

The rotating scheduling is as follows:

Monday and Tuesday – Group 1

Wednesday and Thursday – Group 2

Friday and the following Monday – Group 3

The following Tuesday and Wednesday – Group 4

The following Thursday and Friday – Group 1 begins the cycle again

 

Group 5 will be all remote learning

Group 6 will be all in-person learning

Students whose parents choose to put them in the virtual/remote learning schedule will be placed in group five and will receive learning instruction for the five-day school week, according to Valeski.

“Those who are in the full virtual group, in this case, the orange group will log in at 9:10 a.m. for live video conferencing sessions and complete independent assignments, under the direction of their teacher,” Valeski said. “While they have breaks throughout the day, instruction will continue throughout the entire school day.

“If your child is not feeling well enough to attend school for any reason you should keep your child home.”

Valeski said, however, if a student feels well enough, they should participate in a virtual learning for the day. This will allow the student to be marked present for instruction.

“Any student or staff member that begins to feel or show signs of flu-like symptoms will immediately be assessed by the school nurse. After medical assessment, they will be quarantined in the school’s isolation room, and wait for pickup by a parent or emergency contact,” Valeski said. “It is imperative that all parents update their emergency contact through parent access to include someone who is available to pick up the student within 30 minutes.”

Valeski said regular lunch, as expected by students and parents, will not be served during school hours. School meals are critical to student health and well-being, so to ensure students receive complete meals, the district will distribute meals, similar to last year’s grab-and-go model.

“Together, we can do this. No, together we will do this, for the benefit of all East Brunswick students, all East Brunswick families, our school community, and the East Brunswick community,” Valeski said.

For more information, visit www.ebnet.org/Page/13244 or www.ebnet.org/EBPS.

Contact Vashti Harris at vharris@newspapermediagroup.com.