Brick Schools Plan Transition To 4 In-Person Days Of School

Karen Wall
·3 min read

BRICK, NJ — The Brick Township School District expects to offer in-person instruction four days a week for elementary school students beginning Nov. 16, the superintendent announced.

The shift to four days in-person for kindergarten through fifth-graders is the next step in returning all of the students to in-person instruction in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, Superintendent Thomas Farrell said at the Oct. 22 Board of Education meeting.

Parents had been notified about the impending change last week, when they were asked to respond to a survey of whether they wanted to send their children in for four days or have five days a week of virtual instruction, Farrell said. Kindergarten to second-graders will move to four days first, then third through fifth grades.

Middle school and high school students are anticipated to move to four days a week in person by the end of November, he said.

"Having students return to five days a week is the ultimate goal," Farrell said.

Farrell said about 20 percent of the district's 8,200 students will remain on virtual instruction. Students who attend in person will be required to wear masks in class, because social distancing will not be possible, he said.

The instruction will continue to be on the early dismissal schedule, officials said, because having meals in school means students and teachers having to take their masks off to eat, which increases the risk of spreading the coronavirus.

The timeline is not etched in stone, Farrell said.

One of the issues that could affect that timeline is the week off that begins Nov. 2, for Election Day and the New Jersey Education Association's annual convention. The district is closed for the entire week, in part to coordinate with the Ocean County Vocational Schools and other Ocean County school districts.

Having a week off often leads to families traveling for a vacation. Farrell urged parents and staff to take into consideration the increasing outbreaks and quarantine restrictions in any travel plans, because of the potential impacts of quarantines afterward and the risks of contracting the virus.

"This ... has the potential for great hardship to our students, our staff and our district," he said, urging parents and staff members to think hard before traveling out of state.

Farrell said the district has had some cases of the coronavirus, but he declined to say how many. The cases have not forced the district to place any of its schools on fully remote instruction.

"A COVID-19 confirmed positive case results in communication/consultation with the local Ocean County Department of Health," a statement on the district's website said. In cases where there is a primary close contact with an individual in our school and is confirmed with the Ocean County Health Department, parents of impacted students, and affected staff members, are notified directly, the statement said.

"Even though there are specific guidelines, our protocols look at a case-bycase situation with the OCHD and we provide notification based on the guidance from the OCHD, while being cognizant of
confidentiality restrictions," the statement said.

Following any confirmed positive case of an individual within school building, the building is cleaned and sanitizes any areas where the person had spent more than 10 minutes, using electrostatic cleaners and approved disinfectants.

Farrell urged parents, students and staff to not spread or seek information about the schools on social media.

"It’s just not reliable," he said. "Things are constantly changing and the administration is navigating as best we can in a timely manner."

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This article originally appeared on the Brick Patch