As the Cranbury School administration prepares to enter the 2021-22 school year the district will continue to maintain several safety protocols implemented during the pandemic, such as 3 feet of social distancing.
Susan Genco, Cranbury School District superintendent and Cranbury School principal, briefed the Board of Education at a meeting on Aug. 18 about the safety protocols that will be maintained, implemented and discontinued for the upcoming academic year.
“Our goal is to return to as much normalcy as possible, while maintaining strategies to promote the health and safety of all students and staff. We are in the process of developing several layered safety protocols,” she said. “They obviously include a return to a full-day, five-day a week in-person learning environment. All staff and families will be asked to complete a one-time acknowledgement of their responsibility to assess symptoms.”
The administration plans to keep the one-way traffic flow in the school and 3 feet of social distancing would also be maintained in all areas of the school, which will include the cafeteria.
Additionally, lunch will be served in the cafeteria and the school media center to accommodate students seating 3 feet apart.
“We are still looking at if we are going to do what I call ‘airline service,’ where we have a cart and go to the desks and give the students their food; or if there could be a way they move around and get their food and return to their seats,” Genco added. “If they are moving about the cafeteria they will be masked and if they are eating they will be unmasked.”
There is also a light flooring over the carpet in the library to keep it clean and the school would be able to use a portion of the library for the cafeteria.
The administration is not planning on conducting any in-house COVID-19 testing, but will meet with representatives of Penn Medicine Princeton Health to talk about onsite testing afterschool options.
For students who travel on the bus, masks will be required at all times and the district will try to have a family per seat.
“We are going to maintain the hygiene and respiratory etiquette that is outlined in the return to school plan at the end of June. Those practices have really worked well and we will continue those,” Genco said. “These are just some of the things that are in the works and none of them have been absolutely solidified, but these are things we can comfortable say that we are going to be finalizing.”
Students will also return to the use of lockers and cubbies. The school administration thinks that students would go in shifts, she added.
Cranbury School activities and sports are set to return and continue for the 2021-22 school year.
“We really want to kind of flesh it out also with the teachers what is feasible even with the playground equipment. Now we spray the playground equipment,” Genco said. “I know the kids really want to play on it, it is outdoors, and masking definitely is an issue in how many kids are actually going to play at any one time just to spread it out a little bit. This is something we are working on.”
Some safety protocol measures currently planned to be discontinued include temperature checks, the monitoring of restrooms, the loading of buses from back to front. unloading buses from front to back, and masking outdoors.
The district, for the upcoming school year, is still dealing with a substitute teacher shortage as Assistant Principal Michele Waldron indicated at the meeting that on paper there are 28 substitutes, but about three substitutes who work regularly.
“Out of 28 or 26, there were 10 people who were really fictitious – by that I mean they really never work or they were completely not working due to COVID-19 or other circumstances,” Waldron said. “Five of the substitutes were brand new substitutes that we hired in the midst of everything going on. Four of them are college students and their availability is very limited, obviously. And another five of substitutes only work one to two days throughout the year.”
She added that the school is making more headway and getting more people.