Home Examiner Examiner News Upper Freehold Regional supt. hoping for students’ return in January

Upper Freehold Regional supt. hoping for students’ return in January

Students in the Upper Freehold Regional School District’s three buildings will receive fully remote instruction for the remainder of December and may return to a hybrid model of instruction on Jan. 11.

On Dec. 4, Superintendent of Schools Mark Guterl announced the decision to use 100% remote instruction until at least Jan. 11.

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

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

All students began receiving 100% remote instruction on Nov. 22 after an Allentown High School student and a Stone Bridge Middle School teacher tested positive for coronavirus, according to Guterl.

In a notice released by Guterl the same day, he said the fully remote instruction would continue for at least two weeks, with a potential physical return to school on Dec. 7.

However, in a Dec. 4 announcement, Guterl said the district would remain 100% remote at least into early January.

He explained that the decision was made because the district experienced a rise in positive cases and because the cases were impacting staff and students. He said health officials recommended a shift to 100% remote instruction.

“The recent decision to go fully remote until Jan. 11 was disappointing. I believe kids need to be in school; this decision doesn’t change my belief. (However), these two concerns impacted my decision, and, although I want kids in school, this decision was needed.

“Every day, I listen to, read about and talk with people who are experts in the field; they believe in the importance of students being in school.

“I can assure the entire community I feel the same way. Our teachers, staff and administrators prefer having kids in school as well. We will do everything possible to make Jan. 11 come to fruition for our students.

“As I have mentioned in the past, I continue to have great hope for our future. New vaccines and continued research provide some light at the end of this COVID tunnel.

“I am optimistic about some return to normalcy for us in the future and I look forward to the day where we can all be back in school, focusing our energies completely on learning and the social-emotional well-being of our kids. We will get through this,” Guterl said.

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