Have you decided whether or not you’ll send the kids back to school for in-person learning in September? A recent survey from the Department of Education shows that half of New Jersey parents are ready to send their kids back to school for in-person learning. But since the survey was conducted in early June (and 54 percent of parents said they would send their children back to a classroom), there has been lots more discussion about safety, even with social distancing measures, masking wearing and other procedures in place.
NJ has mandated that some form of in-person instruction be offered in all districts. But as of late, the rate of transmission has risen to its highest level in months. At least one school district, Bayonne, in Hudson County has gone against the guidelines and submitted a plan for all-remote instruction for its nearly 9,600 students.
In order for schools to open, the state calls for keeping students six feet apart and utilizing rotating schedules if need be to keep class sizes small. In Princeton, elementary school students will be split into Cohort A and Cohort B, with group A attending school Monday and Tuesday until 1 pm and group B attending Thursday and Friday until 1 pm (schools will be closed for cleaning on Wednesdays). A similar type of hybrid plan will be enacted in Montclair and Camden.
Summit has opted for five days a week of in-person instruction, raising important questions about the rotating schedules proposed by other districts. “Where are students on their remote only days? Who are they with? Are they gathering? Are they distancing? Are they wearing masks? Are they supervised? Are they receiving health screenings?” asked the acting Summit superintendent Robert Gardella.
NJ parents also have the option to opt out of in-person learning and instead choose an all-remote learning schedule for their children.
There’s also a bill that proposes NJ school start the year with remote learning only, with its authors saying that starting school in-person would be a “step backward” in the fight against the virus.
And yet, the CDC has stressed the importance of in-person learning for children, citing the many drawbacks of remote learning including learning loss, a serious impact on kids’ social and emotional skills and even physical safety. America’s pediatricians agree, with many calling for schools to resume in-person classes, citing the very small risk of contracting and dying from COVID-19 for kids.
“We recognize that children learn best when physically present in the classroom,” said the American Academy of Pediatrics in a statement. “But children get much more than academics at school. They also learn social and emotional skills at school, get healthy meals and exercise, mental health support and other services that cannot be easily replicated online.”
Meanwhile, many question how districts will handle positive cases in schools. The New York Times reported that a school that reopened in Indiana had to quarantine students within hours when a student tested positive for the virus on the first day.
What is your school district’s plan for reopening? How likely are you to send your child back to school?