The Cranbury School District will be expanding in-person learning to Wednesdays starting March 24.
During the school year, Wednesdays each week have been fully remote learning days to allow for deep cleaning of the school building.
“We have been intensely monitoring our local conditions in an effort to safely increase in-person learning opportunities for our students,” Superintendent Susan Genco said during a Board of Education meeting on March 15. “In Cranbury Township we have had a 75% drop in cases in the past four weeks and in the Cranbury School we had only two cases with limited close contacts. The Cranbury School will continue to make data-driven decisions based on science and reality and not on emotion and COVID-19 fatigue.”
For the hybrid model, all K-3 students will attend school each Wednesday from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and students from fourth to eighth grade will attend school on alternate Wednesdays by cohort from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
Afternoon virtual learning will continue as currently scheduled for all students.
“On March 24, hybrid students in Grades 4 and 5 (Cohort B) will attend school in-person, while all students will participate in a virtual career day. On March 31, hybrid students in Grades 4-8 in Cohort A will come to school,” Assistant Principal Michele Waldron said. “We have prioritized Cohort A for March 31 since that group missed more in-person days during the winter due to holidays or remote only days this year.”
The Cranbury School cohorts will continue to rotate in-person learning days on Wednesdays following Spring Break (April 2-11). Specific cohort dates will be posted on the school district website, according to the administration.
The district is able to expand in-person learning partly due to a revised cleaning protocol.
“During spring break the district will implement a new Bio-Protect cleaner, which kills bacteria on treated surfaces for up to 90 days; this will eliminate the need to clean surfaces between periods,” Waldron said in a presentation on March 15. “Due to limited custodial staff, Dr. Genco and I have been assisting custodians with daily cleaning. The new protocol will allow us to redirect our time to other duties.”
Custodial staff will also continue to clean nightly “including a deeper cleaning between cohorts which would take place on Tuesday or Wednesday nights depending on the cohort schedule,” Waldron said. “Since the new cleaner will not be applied until spring break we will add March 24 and March 31 to our current cleaning schedule.”
Parents are being asked by the district administration to select a final learning model for the rest of the 2020-21 school year. Changes to selections won’t be accommodated after March 22.
“This final selection will remain in place from April 19 until the end of June. Assessing the final selection for each student will allow us to further analyze additional options for increasing in-person,” Genco said. “To date we have accommodated over 170 official change requests in addition to change requests that happen on a daily basis. We no longer have a flexibility to accept long-term or daily changes.”
The district sent out a survey to parent and is seeking those responses by March 22.
“If you do not have a response by Monday evening we will plan for your child to continue the learning model they are currently in through June 21. This will allow Michele and I to quickly go through the data and determine what things we can and cannot do.”
The district administration will consider options such as combining cohorts, increasing days in person and adjusting in-person school hours.
One of the challenges the district has to navigate is Cranbury School classroom space.
“There are currently several classrooms that are approaching maximum capacity. We are aware of those classrooms and communicating with those teachers regarding those spaces,” Genco said. “We are also making arrangements to relocate those classrooms should it become necessary.”
The administration will also utilize targeted intervention when it comes to additional students being added to current classes.
“For example, by using Plexiglass in classes that are slightly over capacity instead of moving the entire class. We have very few spaces available to move classes by using target Plexiglass in classrooms that need it we will be able to accommodate more students at that time.