CLARK, NJ — Clark Schools is currently working on a plan to physically reopen schools in September amid the coronavirus. The process will continue over the next few weeks with a goal to unveil a plan during the first week of August.
Superintendent of Schools Edward Grande said the district is working with groups such as parents, teachers, the township health officer, and school nurses to figure out a plan together.
"We want to offer our students an experience that is consistent and most closely aligned with the traditional experience, but without compromising anyone's health or safety," Grande said during Monday's Board of Education virtual meeting. "Health and safety is paramount and it comes first over education."
As meetings continue to be held, Grande invited any parent who is interested in being apart of these discussions to reach out to their child's principal to be placed on a committee.
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Grande went on to explain why surveys have not been sent out to parents yet.
"We are not putting out surveys yet, to ask a parent if they feel comfortable sending their child back to school because it doesn't make sense until a plan is released and they can then make a decision based on that plan," Grande said.
Grande also didn't think it was sensible to send out a survey on possible options when those might not be viable in a few months.
In the meantime, the district is having maintenance done on their HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) system to make sure "air flow is where it should be."
Staff is also being trained on wellness. Grande said the district is still waiting to hear from the state on daily screenings.
"The BOE [Board of Education] and administrators have a strong commitment to make the transition from in-person to remote learning as smooth as possible, so as to minimize any educational disruptions," Grande said.
One parent called into the meeting, Eric Jacobson, asking about special education classes. Jacobson noted there are about 8 kids in a class which seems like social distancing could be maintained in September.
Grande said the administration did look at the number of special education children in classes in the district "and it does look like those children can be brought back full time because the need of social distancing is in place and it's the right thing to do for the kids."
Parents who may have any questions or input into the reopening process are asked to email firstname.lastname@example.org.
A "draft" proposal was leaked on Monday by the New Jersey teachers' union, where teachers are calling for students to be required to wear face coverings "door-to-door" (that means all day long while in school) and districts to conduct weekly testing of students. Read More: NJ Teachers Develop Possible Back-To-School Coronavirus Rules
Dawn Hiltner, a spokeswoman for the New Jersey Education Association, confirmed the contents of a document that was circulating on Twitter on Monday, but added that it reflects what teachers believe should happen.
Here is what the NJEA also would like to see:
The district should provide testing for all students and staff during the week prior to the first day of attendance.
Masks should be worn door-to-door.
Students and staff must wear face coverings at their bus stops and prior to boarding the buses.
Each district should provide weekly on-site testing of all students and staff at no cost.
Social distancing of 6 feet must be maintained at all times.
Hallways and passing areas should be marked to allow for one-way travel as needed.
Plexiglass barriers should be installed where social distancing isn't possible.
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