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Upper Freehold Regional School District puts emphasis on mental health

Administrators in the Upper Freehold Regional School District will work to address the mental health of students and staff members as the district’s facilities fully reopen for the 2021-22 school year.

The 2021-22 school year will begin for students on Sept. 8. Upper Freehold Regional comprises the Newell Elementary School, the Stone Bridge Middle School and Allentown High School and educates school-age residents of Upper Freehold Township and Allentown.

High school-age residents of Millstone Township also attend Allentown High School through a send-receive relationship between Upper Freehold Regional and the Millstone Township K-8 School District.

For 2021-22, administrators in all school districts in New Jersey were required to submit an LEA (Local Educational Agency) Plan for Safe Return to In-Person Instruction and Continuity of Service to the New Jersey Department of Education.

The plan was mandatory under the federal American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, which is intended to help school districts fully reopen amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

According to the district’s reopening plan for 2021-22, Upper Freehold Regional is currently fully open for students and staff members.

The plan states that a “normal” (five full days of in-person instruction for students) at the beginning of the school year will be the most important component to addressing the academic and social/emotional needs of students.

In May, Gov. Phil Murphy required all New Jersey school districts to return to in-person, full-day instruction at the start of the 2021-22 school year. During the 2020-21 school year, school districts implemented a combination of in-person and remote learning.

As stated in the reopening plan, a focal point for Upper Freehold Regional will be the mental health of students and staff members.

To help students and the community as a whole, district administrators will continue to provide more opportunities for mental health-focused training and presentations, along with expanding the mental health therapeutic program at Allentown High School.

Staff training is also an emphasis in this area for staff to ensure we are doing everything we can to identify and support children in need,” the plan reads.

For staff members, district administrators are working with a counselor to provide wellness feedback.

Administrators are also working with a gym to provide the opportunity for wellness coaching sessions for staff members after school, according to the reopening plan.

According to the reopening plan, the district is focused on delivering assessments and curriculum to students in order to meet group and individual needs.

Student assessments this year will allow us to begin our journey to address the academic needs of our students. Through summer programs at all levels, students’ needs will be addressed so they are ready for the beginning of the school year.

“The district remains committed to provide training for staff regarding the current challenges that the 2020-21 school year brought. These challenges are being used to improve our overall educational program when things return to normal in the fall,” administrators wrote.

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