Freehold Township K-8 students await in-person return to schools

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FREEHOLD TOWNSHIP – Students in the Freehold Township K-8 School District may resume in-person instruction at their schools on Dec. 14 following a two-week change-over to fully remote instruction.

During the 2020-21 school year, because of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, many Freehold Township pupils have been receiving their education in a hybrid model that consists of in-person instruction and remote instruction. Two cohorts of students have been attending school on alternating days.

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Some children have only been receiving remote instruction if their parents selected that option at the beginning of the school year.

In a letter dated Nov. 23, Superintendent of Schools Neil Dickstein said all students would begin receiving fully remote instruction by Nov. 30. He said the fully remote instruction is expected to continue until Dec. 14, after which the hybrid model may resume.

Dickstein wrote that the decision to change to fully remote instruction was due to an increase in the number of positive coronavirus cases across the school district.

“Throughout the weekend and today (Nov. 23), the number of confirmed positive COVID cases and the number of staff and students who are symptomatic has increased exponentially,” he wrote.

“This has resulted in the challenge of accurately identifying all close contacts and informing them of their status. Additionally, as staff members are testing positive for COVID or developing symptoms of COVID and being identified as close contacts, we are losing the ability to adequately provide substitute coverage for them,” Dickstein wrote.

The superintendent said the date when students will be permitted to physically return to school may change based on the New Jersey Department of Health’s risk designation for the state’s central east region where Freehold Township is located. The region is currently in a high risk category.

“Please understand, (moving to fully remote instruction) was not an easy decision,” Dickstein wrote. “I believe our kids need to be in school. However, we cannot sacrifice their health and safety to keep them physically in the schools.

“We are fortunate to have the ability to maintain continuity of instruction virtually, even if it is not our preferred manner in which to educate our students.

“Let’s commit ourselves and our families to abiding by the guidelines in effect so we may have a safe and healthy return to school in December. Thank you for your anticipated support and cooperation. We are all in this together,” he wrote.

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