Matawan-Aberdeen officials still working on plan to reopen schools

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The school reopening plan that will be implemented by administrators in the Matawan-Aberdeen Regional School District remained uncertain as the week began.

Administrators were still reviewing the results of a survey parents had been asked to complete and return by Aug. 13. The results of the survey were not available as of Aug. 17.

The Board of Education is expected to hold a virtual meeting at 6 p.m. Aug. 18 during which updated information regarding the school reopening plan is expected to be provided.

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 school year, students received a remote (virtual) education at their homes.

For the 2020-21 school year, Murphy initially directed school administrators to develop a plan to reopen schools in September in a manner that best fits a district’s local needs. The governor said a district’s plan had to include in-person instruction and could include some remote instruction.

Murphy subsequently said district administrators had to provide an all-remote instructional plan for parents who do not want to send their children to a school.

After administrators in some school districts said they would not be able to provide any level of in-person instruction, Murphy amended his order and said administrators could begin the academic year with an all-remote instructional plan and no in-person instruction.

Administrators who want to begin the school year without in-person instruction must explain to state officials why they are unable to provide in-person instruction and must work to reach a point where in-person learning can be provided, according to the governor.

Superintendent of Schools Joseph Majka said administrators in Matawan-Aberdeen may choose an all-remote reopening plan depending on how parents responded to the district’s survey.

In a letter to parents, the superintendent wrote, “We thank you for your ongoing questions and feedback centered around our district reopening plan. We encourage you to continue to stay engaged in the reopening process.

“Our work does not end with the publishing of our reopening plan. In fact, the planning and preparation of all the details of operating schools remains the focus of our work.” 

Majka said administrators are continuing to work through procedures, protocols and best practices in the areas of cleaning and maintaining the schools; safely transporting children to and from school; conducting health screenings; and creating schedules for in-person and remote instruction.

He said administrators are preparing for the possibility the 2020-21 academic year could begin with all-remote instruction.

“Our reopening plans are contingent upon the results of the full-time remote and transportation parent survey” which was due back on Aug. 13, Majka wrote.

Parents who did not submit a survey response by Aug. 13 will have their children assigned to a combination in-person and remote educational plan if administrators do not opt for an all-remote reopening plan.

“We have been in this together from the start, we remain strong together and we will continue to find our way together,” Majka said.