Welcome to the New School Year!

Welcome to the 21-22 School Year
Posted on 08/18/2021

I hope you’re enjoying a restful and restorative summer.  After the last year+ or so, we all deserved this summer’s down time!  I’ll be interested in hearing what everyone was up to, especially what interesting books were read!  Here are several updates you should know as we all prepare for the next school year.

We have a few new faces on the staff this year:

Mrs. Jennifer Rothacker joins the staff, teaching 5th and 6th grade social studies.

Mrs. Cynthia Cummings is filling in while Mrs. Lehman is out on leave.

Mr. Daniel Ratty is the new aide in the LLD classroom and Ms. Dianna Micek is the new aide in PreK.

Over the summer we were also pleased to welcome our new Technology Coordinator, John Gaertner,.

Other changes to note:

Mrs. Laing is now teaching Kindergarten.

Ms. LaRusso is teaching 1st Grade.

Mrs. Berner is back and joins the 3rd grade team.

Mrs. Olsen resumes the staff substitute position.

Upon arrival to school in the morning, Kindergarten and 1st grade students will report to their classrooms.  Grades 2, 3, 5 and 6 will report to the Lower Gym.  Grades 4, 7 and 8 will report to the Upper Gym.  Students will once again be traveling to their scheduled classes this year.  Lunch is back and will take place in the Lower Gym except for Kindergarten—they will eat in their classrooms.  (Kindergarten Lunch Pro Tip:  Practice opening lunch containers and straws during the summer!)  In the 7th/8th grade hall, the core locks have been removed from lockers—we’ll avoid jammed lockers and save time (also, MLHS does not use locks on lockers so it’s a good opportunity to begin practicing the honor system.)

I have been closely following all of the news about masking and students.  Due to the prevalence of the Delta variant and the increase in the transmission rate of the COVID virus, the governor decided in early August that masking students and staff in school when we start back next month is the most prudent course of action.  It’s important that everyone understand that this is not a local decision but one that came from Trenton through the Governor’s Office, the State Department of Health and the State Department of Education.

We finally received word that there will indeed be a Fall assessment this year.  The Start Strong Assessments are meant to measure just where New Jersey students are compared with the standards for each grade for the prior school year and will be a valuable tool for us as we return to a more typical school year.  The tests are scheduled as follows:

September 28-29          ELA-Math         Gr. 4 – 8

September 30               Science            Gr. 6 only

The Department of Education has not announced the dates of the spring assessments as yet.

The Parent Portal has been updated with the forms we need you to complete for the beginning of the year.  One of the many benefits of filling out forms online is you won’t have to repeat information for every child if you have more than one student at RVS.  In addition, your information will be available to us in a much more timely way.  Some items of an informational nature will be contained in a special folder in the virtual backpack for your reference at any time.  New families:  no worries!   We’re sending you your login information as well.  Of particular importance this year:  Honeywell has stopped providing their Instant Alert service to schools.  Our new service is through School Messenger (also the host of the new website) and it draws directly from your information in the Genesis student information system (SIS).  Please check that all your contact information in the Parent Portal is current.  You will be asked to “opt in” for text messaging.  More information about this will follow.

In our continuing efforts to “go green” and reduce our paper usage, you will be receiving more correspondence from school electronically.  This communication was sent both by regular mail and via School Messenger, the new instant alert system.  Please visit the Parent Portal as soon as possible and fill out the forms required for this year.  Your account in the Portal will be unlocked when you complete the forms needed for your family.  Once your account is unlocked, you’ll be able to check for your child’s homeroom teacher and bus assignments.

Our community partners, the Rockaway Valley School Home and School Association and the Boonton Township Education Foundation have the need to communicate with you from time to time.  We share your contact information with them so that they may reach you with important news and updates of their own. 

If you do not want your information shared with these groups, please email the school office ([email protected]) to opt out.

Our Chromebook initiative last year was a huge success, especially during remote learning periods.  This year we’ve decided to offer a “chromebook insurance policy” in the event damage occurs to your student’s assigned device.  The optional policy will cost $30 per year and protects you for a total of two accidents during the school year.  After two incidents, the total repair or replacement cost will be assessed.  Look for a form with all the details.  Please note that this is optional, however, those without the insurance will be assessed the full repair or replacement cost upon each incident of a malfunctioning chromebook.

As you know, I like to choose a theme each year.  This year our overarching theme is “Better Together.”  After this last year and a half of feeling fractured, being at home, in cohorts and finally together but separated by plastic, it’s time to look forward.  This year we will work to rebuild a cohesive community back, practice helping one another to achieve our goals and, above all, model for one another the resiliency and positivity that are needed to be “better together” in a welcoming, inclusive and bias-free environment.

We learned a lot from the lessons of the 2020-2021 School Year.  And while the benefits of these lessons were hard-earned and perhaps, not what we would have chosen if given a choice, we’re all—each one of us—the  stronger for them.  We carry that strength into this school year and look forward to continuing the tradition of excellence that is the hallmark of RVS.

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