EDISON – Schools Superintendent Bernard Bragen said as surrounding school districts switch back to a fully remote schedule due to rising cases of the coronavirus, the Edison School District is holding its own and will continue its hybrid in-person schedule.
“Every district is unique, it has its own number of cases, staff member needs and concerns,” he said.
Bragen, who gave an update on the hybrid in-person model schedule at a Board of Education meeting on Nov. 24, said he commends the district’s staff for their perseverance through the pandemic.
“I talked to superintendents in neighboring communities and some issues [other districts have had] were staff that traveled over the teacher convention days and had to self quarantine for 14 days, which limited their ability to put teachers in the classrooms,” he said. “We did not have that issue here … we had some staff members who did that, but a very small portion so kudos to our members for taking this seriously and trying to be here for our children.”
Bragen said the district’s hybrid in-person model is a half day session with no lunch period. The district offers free daily breakfast and lunch meals and/or a seven-day meal kit for students.
Some 27-28% of the student population chose the hybrid in-person model, which began on Oct. 19. When the district did another survey at the start of the second marking period, Bragen said 100 more students chose to move from the fully remote to the hybrid in-person model schedule.
“As long as the pandemic is still impacting the community, we are going [to re-survey] on a marking period basis,” he said. “It enables us to plan and staff accordingly.”
The district keeps track of the number of positive COVID-19 cases and follows New Jersey Department of Health, Edison Township Department of Health and Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Prevention guidelines. Since the hybrid in-person model began on Oct. 19, the first week reported six positive cases, the second week reported nine cases and the third week reported seven cases.
“We will shut schools down in consultation with the Board of Health and CDC protocols,” Bragen said, noting the district assesses the cases on a case by case and school by school basis.
On Nov. 20, Lincoln Elementary School switched to a full remote schedule for 14 days after an individual at the school tested positive for COVID-19, according to a letter to parents and guardians on Nov. 19. It is anticipated students and staff will return for in-person instruction on Dec. 4.
“We are doing our best,” Bragen said. “We want to continue to provide the opportunity for students that want to come to school to have that option. If parents are uncomfortable in any way, they have the option to always switch back to totally remote.”
Bragen said he tries to visit the schools as much as he can. Recently he visited Lindeneau Elementary School, which has the highest percentage of students attending the hybrid in-person model.
“It was so refreshing,” he said of the visit. “The students were eager, enthusiastic to be there and so were the staff, whether support staff, teachers and administrators. As I reflect on this and people ask why don’t you close, why don’t you send everybody home, I think of those children, those staff members who have joy of coming to school everyday to have some degree of normalcy.”
The Edison School District has two high schools, four middle schools, nine elementary schools, one intermediate school, one primary school and the operation of a preschool program.
For more information visit www.edison.k12.nj.us. For more information about the free daily breakfast and lunch meals and/or a seven-day meal kit for students contact firstname.lastname@example.org.