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Old Bridge school officials looking to bring in outside provider to provide COVID-19 vaccine in district

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OLD BRIDGE – School officials are working on securing an outside provider to provide the COVID-19 vaccine for its teachers, faculty and staff when the time comes.

Currently, the vaccine is open to healthcare personnel, long-term care residents and staff, first responders and individuals at high risk in category 1A. Teachers are part of category 1B, which also include anyone over 65 and people between 16 and 64 with specific medical issues.

“We can have that vaccine brought to the district within days,” Schools Superintendent David Cittadino said. “Several of our nurses have volunteered to provide the vaccine to our staff.”

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration gave emergency use approval to the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine on Dec. 11 and the Moderna vaccine on Dec. 18.

Cittadino said providing the vaccine would be a “tremendous game changer.”

“It would offer a lot of support to put [the novel coronavirus pandemic] behind us and get past the darkest year in education and our lifetime,” he said.

During the holiday season, the township and the public school district collaborated to provide COVID-19 testing, which continues in the parking lot of Old Bridge High School. Testing is administered by Synergy Medical Labs and Capital Health Laboratory.

Hybrid in-person instruction

School officials announced at a Board of Education meeting on Jan. 12 they plan to return to its hybrid in-person instruction model with an AA/BB 50% capacity model on March 1.

The district began its hybrid in-person instruction model in October at 33% capacity; however, with a rise in state and local COVID-19 numbers, the district returned to a fully remote schedule on Nov. 23.

The AA/BB 50% capacity model allows students in the A cohort attend four-hour school days on Monday and Tuesday and students in the B cohort to attend four-hour school days on Thursday and Friday.

Effective Jan. 19, the district is implementing Wellness Wednesdays, which will be a half-day for all students. When the district returns to its hybrid in-person instruction model, Wednesdays will be a remote day for all students.

“Part of the general concerns from parents, teachers and students in some cases is the overwhelming pressure [they face] as we continue our remote platform,” said James Tuohy, assistant superintendent of education programs.

Wednesday afternoons will allow for students to catch up on missed work; and schedule time with their school counselors, child student teacher case managers, student assistant coordinator counselors or teachers to address concerns they have with remote learning.

Teachers can also use the time to communicate with students and parents and plan for additional classroom activities, Tuohy said.

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