Matawan-Aberdeen administrators announce revised plan for school reopening


Administrators in the Matawan-Aberdeen Regional School District have settled on the plan that will be followed as students return to school in September at a time when restrictions brought on by the 2020 coronavirus pandemic remain in place.

Board of Education President Allison Friedman said that when the 2020-21 academic year begins, students in non-tuition pre-kindergarten, kindergarten, first grade, fourth grade, sixth grade, ninth grade and 12th grade will follow a schedule of in-person and remote instruction.

She said students in second, third, fifth, seventh, eighth, 10th and 11th grades will follow an all-remote schedule at home.

Under a directive from Gov. Phil Murphy, regardless of the grade a child is in, parents have the option to select an all-remote instructional model if they do not want to send their child into a school.

The revised instructional plan was approved by board members on Aug. 18 and Friedman explained why the decision was made.

“To be able to see, appreciate, learn and touch your new school is a milestone and something that was important not to deprive those children.

“First grade is when you do a lot of learning how to read and that is not something that can be effectively taught via Zoom or remote learning. So that is why first grade students (will attend school),” she said.

Friedman said fourth grade is a child’s first year at the Lloyd Road Elementary School, which is a transitional year when he or she is learning their room, their way and their teacher. Those pupils will attend school under the revised plan.

“Sixth grade is a student’s first year (at the Matawan-Aberdeen Middle School) in a transitional year. … Ninth grade is obviously freshman year (at Matawan Regional High School) and (in-person attendance) gives those students the opportunity to learn about the high school … and 12th grade, senior year, is a milestone year and we would like to give the seniors as much of a normal senior year as is physically possible,” Friedman said.

School will begin on Sept. 8 and the instructional model will be re-evaluated shortly after the academic year begins, she said.

“We will be able to (review) any bumps or any concerns about safety. … We would be able to manage those numbers and see what problems arise, if any, and if there are no problems … on Oct. 5, we would enact our original hybrid plan (a combination of in-person and remote instruction for all grades) for all the students whose parents choose that plan.”

Friedman said the board members understand the revised plan is different from what administrators initially told parents.

“I understand and empathize with the frustration our parents are feeling; those who work and had worked out a schedule with their employer. You are not alone. There are a number of us on the board who have children and are in the same situation. … However, this seems to be the safest option,” she said.

Friedman said administrators hope to implement the original plan which provided a combination of in-person and remote instruction for students in all grades on Oct. 5.

As the school year begins, students in kindergarten, first grade, fourth grade, sixth grade, ninth grade and 12th grade will follow the following schedule:

• On Monday and Tuesday, students with a last name starting with A-K will attend school;

• On Wednesday, all students will receive remote instruction;

• On Thursday and Friday, students with a last name starting with L-Z will attend school.

Friedman said self-contained special education students, homeless students and English as a Second Language students will attend school five days a week.