Hopewell Valley Central High School transitioned to remote instruction through Jan. 7 and Timberlane Middle School has followed suit.
According to the school district, the high school transitioned to virtual instruction on Jan. 3 and the middle school started virtual learning on Jan. 5, which will also go through Jan. 7.
However, Toll Gate Grammar School, Hopewell Elementary School, Bear Tavern Elementary School, and Stony Brook Elementary School have continued with in-person learning this week that began on Jan. 3.
“The month of January is going to be a tough month. We are going to have some highs and lows,” Superintendent Rosetta Treece said during the reorganization meeting on Jan. 3. “I am going to do the best that I can to avoid any lengthy closures unnecessarily. If we feel that we can’t keep your kids safe, we certainly are fully prepared to go remote at any one of our school sites.”
According to the school district, the Department of Health will re-evaluate the number of active cases toward the end of the week to determine next week’s course of action for the district.
“It is still my belief and the school board, I believe I have your support, that our kids do best when they are in person learning. We know last year we had students that had academic learning loss,” Treece said. “We did better than most districts, but we did see some learning loss based on what many of you received during the holiday break.”
She added that the school district had students who struggled emotionally in isolation and staff.
“We know our kids do best health-wise when they are in person. We have not had in-school transmission at lunch and on our playgrounds this school year,” Treece said. “Yes, we have had COVID-19 cases, but those have been outside cases and we have been able to track them. With this new variant and the rise of these cases, we are all kind of caught off guard the way the cases duplicated and tripled.”
According to the school district administration, most of these positive cases the district has been experiencing have been mild.
“We are able to successfully manage and isolate those that we are concerned about and return them to in-person learning as soon as possible,” she added.
To prevent potential closings of schools in the district and returns to remote instruction for lengths of time, the district will depend on maintaining staffing at the six individual schools.
“I need to have healthy teachers who can come in and successfully do their jobs. Their COVID-19 cases weigh on whether we can have a building open or not,” Treece said. “These decisions require collaboration with health department and approval by the New Jersey Department of Education and the state Department of Health.”
The district administration would have to get permission to close schools from the state’s Department of Education and Department of Health.
“I do not have the ability to close a whole district without their approval and I have to demonstrate that I am not able to successfully stay in person,” she said. “I am asking that parents remain flexible and I will communicate as soon as I know of any changes we need to make. So if there are kids that need to be here, even in this high school based on their programming and needs, we are going to have them in.”