What are you concerned about as schools plan to reopen? We want to hear from N.J parents, teachers.
It’s August and as much as many parents, students and teachers hate to admit it, September will be here before we know it.
Schools across New Jersey are shaping their reopening plans, but this year the return to school could look vastly different from district to district — even more so than last year, when some districts stayed remote nearly the entire year while others were fully open from day one.
These days, parents are talking excitedly at the playground about a return to normalcy — full-day, in-person school and no more Zoom!
But others are anxiously waiting to hear how schools will be able to do that and still keep kids — many of whom still aren’t eligible for a vaccine — safe from COVID-19. Will there be enough room to stay three feet apart in class? How will lunch in the cafeteria be handled? Will outbreaks in COVID cases cause kids to be quarantined and go remote again? Why isn’t there an option to keep kids virtual?
We want to hear from parents, students and staff as they prepare to return to school this fall. What are you most concerned about? What are you least concerned about? What kind of plans do you hope your school district will implement?
Earlier this summer, Gov. Phil Murphy and the state Department of Education released a 15-page document containing guidelines school districts can follow to reduce the risks of spreading COVID-19 among students and staff, while still maintaining full-time in-person learning.
Virtual or hybrid learning won’t be an option, Murphy has said. But the guidance is just that — guidance, not mandates.
The only exception to that is masks must be worn, Murphy announced earlier this month.
Murphy has also cautioned that the plans could change if new recommendations are released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Among the guidance for this year:
Masks are required for students and staff of all public, private, parochial, charter, and renaissance schools and to anyone inside those buildings, regardless of vaccination status.
Try to maintain three feet of distance in classroom settings, but not being able to do that can’t prohibit schools from fully opening.
Face desks in the same direction and avoid grouped seating.
Stagger eating times to allow greater social distancing, or eat in classrooms or outdoors. Avoid self-serve food.
Open windows on buses and maximize physical distance if space allows. Masks are required on buses, per CDC rules.
Increase fresh air inside buildings by opening windows and doors, or using child-safe fans
Consider screening tests of asymptomatic students or staff to identify transmission
Some schools are issuing community surveys to gauge parents’ and teachers’ levels of comfort with various elements of the guidance before they formulate a plan. Others have already begun to announce what the return to school will look like this fall.
If you’re interested in being interviewed by a reporter from NJ Advance Media, we’d like to hear from you. Take a few moments to fill out this form and share some of your feedback as schools prepare to reopen this fall.