July 17, 2020
Dear Parents and School Community Members,
We officially closed out the 2019-2020 school year with a lovely ceremony for our eighth-graders on Tuesday evening. I want to thank all of the parents who attended for respecting the health and safety protocols we had in place.
I am also very pleased to let you know that Mrs. Fichner will officially begin her role as the Bayberry Principal on August 1. In the meantime, should you need any assistance, kindly continue to email Mrs. Joyce.
As for the planning process for the reopening of the schools, we have established a Restart Committee with 31 members who represent the board, administration, staff, parents, local health officials, borough representatives, and medical professionals, including the school physician. We also established four subcommittees, which include medical response, social and emotional learning, special programs, and instructional resources. The committees have been researching issues, collaborating, and designing protocols and procedures that comply with the state guidance.
I’m sharing the parent and staff survey results regarding the return to school in the fall. Thank you to everyone who responded. We respect your concerns and are taking them into consideration as we continue our planning process. As expected, the results vary, but when taken as a whole, there is clear support for the proposed health and safety protocols. And as much as we would like for the students to be able to return to school full time, we currently do not see a return to traditional in-person instruction every day as a safe option or one that would fully comply with the state guidance on social distancing.
The current plan, therefore, is to limit physical occupancy during in-person instruction through a four-day hybrid schedule. Two cohorts, A and B, would be created alphabetically to keep siblings on the same in-person schedule. Cohort A would attend in-person instruction on Mondays and Tuesdays. Cohort B would attend in-person instruction on Thursdays and Fridays. The in-person instruction would be complemented by distance learning on the days when students are not physically in school. Wednesdays currently would be reserved for remote instruction and professional collaboration and learning. We are waiting for clarification from the state on whether full remote instruction days will count toward the 180-day state requirement.
One of the major challenges is trying to enhance distance learning while also providing in-person instruction. We do not believe that all-day synchronous learning where students are in front of their screens for six hours is a healthy or instructionally sound model. We are working together with stakeholders to find the right balance and work out the logistics of this complicated issue.
Our plan, of course, could change based on further guidance from the state. Nonetheless, we do need to determine our staffing and scheduling needs, so we will be sending you a follow-up survey, which we need every family to answer.
In the meantime, please consider having your children practice wearing masks over the next six weeks. Building your child’s stamina in terms of tolerance for mask wearing will be an important part of any in-person plan.
Thank you for your support and understanding. Have a great weekend.
Very truly yours,
George P. Alexis