Dear Parents, Guardians, and Students:
The new school year is upon us, and as you can imagine, our schools will look and feel differently based on the many precautions that are in place to keep everyone safe and healthy. As I have shared in prior correspondence, we are following our plan which has since been accepted by the New Jersey Department of Education and further reviewed by our Wayne Township Health Department. We also contracted with a pediatric infectious disease specialist to further guide our planning. While our classrooms may have a different feel, our teachers have done a wonderful job in creating warm and inviting learning environments for our students. We look forward to sharing more in the coming weeks and as we hold our virtual back to school nights.
As we start the new school year, there are three important points we would like to share as summarized below:
- Every return to school plan is fragile and easily disrupted by the unpredictable nature of the coronavirus. Protecting the health of our students and staff is always our top priority and our ability to deliver in-person instruction will likely depend on our collective adherence to precautions. Completing the daily health screening form and making sure that each child has a mask when they leave home are two critical responsibilities. If your child is showing any symptoms, please do not send your child to school, and please be sure to contact your doctor. No visitors will be allowed to enter our schools unless there is an emergency situation as identified by the building principal. While students may be eager to see one another after school and on weekends, keep in mind that one large gathering that leads to multiple COVID cases can easily lead to an end to in-person instruction.
- Our teachers are working in a hybrid model for the first time and for many teachers live-streaming lessons will be new. For the first week of school, teachers will be establishing routines that will be refined over time. At the elementary level, students may initially experience fewer live-streamed sessions to allow time for everyone to acclimate. Please be patient as they reflect each day and implement revisions to best meet the needs of students.
- Technology has quickly become the foundation for education in almost all schools across the world in a relatively short time period. While last year, most schools were dependent on Google Classroom, now almost all schools are dependent on Google Meet and Zoom to broadcast lessons. The massive increase in live streaming placed huge demands on both of these virtual meeting platforms. Many local districts started before Labor Day and have experienced choppy video and sound and random disconnection problems. If we experience these problems next week, it is likely that the cause is not a problem with our network, but volume usage problems for these virtual meeting platforms.
We anticipate that you will have any additional questions in the coming weeks. Our principals and teachers stand at the ready to respond to your questions and are more than willing to assist you. As guidance changes and other issues emerge, we will continue to update our website, especially the FAQ section that many find so helpful. We are all very excited to open our schools next week and whether our students are receiving virtual instruction or are participating in our hybrid model, we are certain that our students will continue to receive an excellent education.
Dr. Mark Toback
Superintendent of Schools
Director of Elementary Education
Dr. Dana Sir
Director of Student Support Services