Reopening FAQ's #1

Reopening FAQ's #1
Posted on 08/18/2020

School Reopening FAQ's

(Important to note: Plans are subject to change if circumstances, Executive Orders, etc., are changed.)

1. In light of the Governor's announcement this week, will we be 100% remote in September?

No. At this time, the District has no plans to conduct wholly virtual learning. We continue to plan for our hybrid schedule with a 100% remote option for families who feel that works best for their personal circumstances.

2. I need more information about the 100% remote option.

If your family has particular circumstances that preclude you from sending your child to school under the hybrid A/B cohort schedule, you may opt for 100% remote (virtual) learning. We have a form online for you to fill out to notify us of your intention which you can find under the Reopening School tab on the left. We you select remote learning for your student, you are committing to at least the calendar month. If your circumstances change and you would prefer to rejoin your student's assigned cohort, simply notify the school office one week before the 1st day of the next calendar month (i.e., 9/24 to start in a cohort in October 1). While many districts are using marking periods to manage remote learning, we feel we are small and nimble enough to manage by the month.

If you select 100% remote learning for your family, we will contact you about a time to come to school to pick up textbooks and any other relevant materials the teachers deem necessary.

3. What is the difference between remote learning and being in a cohort?

Here's a good way to look at the types of learning this Fall:

On-Site Learners:   The cohort of students physically present in school.

Off-Site Learners:   The cohort of students learning from home each day.

Remote Learners:   The group of students who have opted to participate in 100% virtual learning from home every day.

Off Site AND Remote learning = Virtual Learning

Virtual learning will be mostly synchronous. Students will login to their teacher's zoom session and will follow along with the class. Certain classes will be asynchronous, meaning they may not participate in the lesson but have an alternate activity to do which will be found in the teacher's Google Classroom. For example, it may be impossible for a student to participate in the art class they have in their schedule because materials for projects will not be available at home. The art teacher may have the students listen in on Zoom to the concepts and then they'll do an alternate activity at home or the entire lesson may be found in Google Classroom. The following week, the classes will be reversed. Teachers will give instructions about the schedule in advance of the class.

4. What is happening in the afternoon?

Teachers are working their typical scheduled workday. They will have a lunch break from 12:30 until 1:10. After lunch, they will be engaged in lesson development, extra help periods, articulation with special education teachers, parent communication, professional development and mentoring the select number of extra-curricular activities that will be available this term. There will be no direct instruction in the afternoon.

5. What about KidCare? How will that work?

As of this moment, we plan to move forward with the RVS Aftercare Program, KidCare. Only those students whose cohort is assigned to be in school that week will be allowed to participate. There is no drop-in option. The program is completely dependent upon enough interest to be operational. If there are not sufficient students registered, we will, unfortunately, have to delay the start of the program.

KidCare will be utilizing primarily the gyms and outdoor locations around campus. Parent pick-up will be at the main office entrance. KidCare participants will bring lunch or have lunch delivered from Simply Gourmet, the school caterer. Based on last year's numbers of aftercare participants and our cohorting of students, we can socially distance lunches and snacks in the cafeteria gym. All health and safety protocols will be followed (hand washing, sanitizing, table wiping, etc.) These protocols will be followed before and after activities as well. The guidelines for childcare providers are being utilized for KidCare.

6. How are you insuring social distancing?

By dividing the school into two cohorts, social distancing in classrooms is accomplished. Students will sit at every other desk, will not use hallway lockers (to reduce crowding) and will, insofar as is possible, remain in their homerooms for the bulk of instruction.

There is signage in the hallways and on the floors indicating directions and students will be expected to follow them when not in classrooms. Every effort has been made to reduce the size of groups within the building.

Masks are to be worn except during snack time in the lower grades, lunch in aftercare, when distanced outside, when PE activities cannot be appropriately distanced.

7. What about transportation?

The results of our parent survey indicated that about half of our families will be opting to transport their children themselves. For those students riding buses, face coverings must be worn once on the bus. Students will sit one child per seat unless seated with siblings. Buses are sanitized following runs.

8. Will the school be screening for symptoms?

It is not feasible for our school nurse to perform temperature screenings on the hundreds of students and staff as they arrive to the building daily. More importantly, we do not want our staff and students traveling to school if they are exhibiting symptoms. All students and staff are required to check their temperature prior to leaving for school. This is in compliance with recent CDC recommendations that schools should not conduct symptom screening at school.

If a student or staff member has COVID-19 symptoms, they should not attend school and should schedule an appointment for COVID-19 testing at their earliest convenience. Any student or staff member testing positive for COVID-19 must isolate themselves for 14 days and should cooperate with health officials with regard to contact tracing to minimize the spread of the virus. Contact tracing will be handled by the Department of Health. The Boonton Township School District will assist by providing information, as appropriate, to facilitate the contact tracing.

Given that a symptomatic staff member may infect others or symptomatic students may spread the virus to other students on the bus on the way to school, the Boonton Township School District feels strongly that the most important screening that needs to occur is a daily temperature check at home. Any student or staff member with a fever of 100.4 F degrees or greater or symptoms of possible COVID-19 virus infection should remain at home. Given the logistical problems of administering temperature scans to hundreds of staff and students each morning, the district will rely on at-home self-screening. Parents will attest to their family's cooperation with the request on a form that will be distributed later this month.

The nurse will conduct temperature screenings for any students or staff members who may become ill or exhibit symptoms during the school day.

9. Contact Tracing and Notification - will the District notify us of any COVID-19 cases?

Continuing with the procedures that are already in place (from the onset of the pandemic), all notifications relative to positive cases are handled by the Department of Health, not the school district. This is due to the fact that the test result from positive cases are not reported to the school district, but to the Department of Health.

If there is a positive case on the part of a student or staff member, it is likely that the entire class would need to quarantine. If quarantining is required, all instruction for the class would be virtual for the length of the quarantine period.

10. What are the guidelines for closing a school or the district if there are COVID-19 cases among staff and students?

At the present time we are awaiting further direction from the New Jersey Department of Health. In the event of positive COVID-19 cases, the district will work closely with the Department of Health with regard to contact tracing and any decisions that would need to be made regarding the closing of the district for a period of time. Students and staff members who are notified of their potential COVID-19 exposure through contact tracing are required to quarantine themselves for the period of time set forth by the CDC, typically 10-14 days.

11. How will instruction be handled if a class is required to self-quarantine?

During the period of quarantine, class instruction would shift to remote mode with the classroom teacher instructing through distance learning platforms. This assumes that the teacher is not ill. If the teacher is ill, alternate arrangements for remote instruction will be made.

12. Now that classes are synchronous, I don't think we have enough devices at home for students and adults who are all working from home at the same time.

We're very cognizant of the fact that sharing devices is not a real option if students must participate in school at the same time. Our plan was to move middle school students in grades 5 - 8 to 1:1 Chromebooks. Since that decision and in light of distance learning during the pandemic, even more Chromebooks were ordered. But because thousands of districts around the country have done the same, these devices are not arriving in a timely way.

In the interim, we have a fair but limited number of District-owned MacBooks that we are planning to lend to families that need them. We will be devising criteria for their distribution (families with multiple siblings, for example) and an application to ask for this accommodation.

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