- Advertisement -

Superintendent’s Corner: School Reopening Update & Parent Survey


Share post:

- Advertisement -

Dear Verona Parents, Guardians & Staff,

Our Return to School Task Force has been highly engaged in discussions over the past several weeks on how to safely reopen schools this September. The members of this task force charged with this herculean task include over 150 representatives from our administration, faculty and staff, parents, and students who examined areas of Facilities, Wellness, Curriculum & Instruction, Governance & Operations, and Technology. As you can imagine, each of these conversations has presented thoughtful ideas as we collectively strive to identify solutions to these unique and unprecedented challenges. The New Jersey Department of Education provided guidelines to school districts in the Road Back: Restart and Recovery Plan for Education, which outlines the anticipated minimum standards that our schools will follow to ensure the safety and well being of our students and staff. There are numerous considerations that our District is incorporating as we develop our school reopening plan. We appreciate your patience as we navigate all of the contingencies. While we recognize there exists no panacea that will satisfy everyone’s desires, we are proud of and grateful for the efforts of our stakeholder teams who have provided the necessary direction to help us pave the way forward.

It is important to emphasize that a return to school is contingent upon a low transmission rate, how data and science inform decision-making, maintaining safety with prescribed social distancing, the use of masks and face shields with fidelity, following hand hygiene practices, limiting high risk transmission activities, preparing for contact tracing and quarantine, employing proper cleaning, and disinfecting surface touch points. Our plan will provide multiple contingencies that will enable our schools to pivot to full remote, virtual instruction in the future should it be necessary. Please understand that there may be additional modifications to this plan as the State continues to modify guidelines based on this evolving public health matter.

As we embark on a new school year, all students and staff will be required to wear masks throughout the school day at all times. Some exceptions may include outdoor physical activity and individual student health concerns. Recommended minimum social distancing standards will be adhered to during the school day. Our District has invested extensive financial resources to purchase personal protective equipment (PPE) such as masks and face shields for our staff. It is recommended parents purchase several washable face masks for their children to wear to school. We encourage parents to build mask endurance with their children so they are able to develop stamina as they wear a mask for extended periods of time while in school. Each school will be provided disposable replacement masks in the event they are needed. It is recommended parents provide their child a travel sanitizing solution (minimum 60% alcohol) that will be permitted for use in school. Parents should also ensure they have several reliable thermometers in their household for daily temperature checks.

Our maintenance and custodial staff are in the process of equipping our classrooms, hallways, and restrooms with appropriate sanitizers and hand soaps. Increased cleaning procedures will be incorporated on a daily basis during the school year with disinfection of surface touch points. Hand sanitizing wipes will be provided for students to disinfect desks at the middle and high school levels as students transition between classes. Moreover, our school hallways will include signage regarding social distancing, the importance of hand washing, and reminders of the requirement to wear masks.

The District is in the process of finalizing plans regarding daily screening of students and employees for symptoms and temperature checks. Details will be forthcoming as we continue to explore emerging technologies that may enable us to expeditiously facilitate this process while managing the unbudgeted expenses that come along with such enhancements. Parents will be required to complete a daily questionnaire regarding symptoms and temperature checks on the days their student is designated to report in-person in order to be permitted to attend school. We will continue to work with our school physician and local health department regarding all matters of public health, reporting protocols concerning symptomatic students and/or staff, necessary contact tracing, and all matters related to COVID-19.

As a result of adhering to six (6) feet of social distance in classrooms there will be a significant reduction in the total capacity in learning spaces to physically accommodate our students. After much consideration and based on the current public health status, the Verona Public Schools will employ an alternating school schedule as follows with certain exceptions, including but not limited to preschool and self-contained special education classrooms:

Grades K-4
School start and end times 8:30 am – 12:30 pm
Lunch will not be provided (with the exception of free and reduced lunch)
A/B alternating schedule
A Day – Monday and Thursday
B Day – Tuesday and Friday
Remote, virtual learning day – Wednesday**

Grades 5-8
School start and end times 8:30 am – 1:05 pm*
Lunch will not be provided (with the exception of free and reduced lunch)
A/B alternating schedule
A Day – Monday and Thursday
B Day – Tuesday and Friday
Remote, virtual learning day – Wednesday**

Grades 9-12
School start and end times 8:00 am – 12:35 pm*
Lunch will not be provided (with the exception of free and reduced lunch)
A/B/C/D alternating schedule
A Day – Monday
B Day – Tuesday
C Day – Thursday
D Day – Friday
Remote, virtual learning day – Wednesday**

* (includes passing time between classes)
** (additional deep cleaning of schools to be completed)

The Verona Public Schools will reopen on a single session, four-hour instructional school day (i.e. 8:30 am – 12:30 pm). Official school hours and bell schedules, as well as student assignment for designated alternating days, will be finalized and communicated to parents and staff in the near future. We will attempt to align student schedules to match their siblings in other schools, whenever possible. School schedules will include a combination of physical and synchronous, live stream instruction on an alternating schedule. For example, our elementary school schedules will operate on an A/B schedule. Only students on the A Day schedule will report to school for in-person instruction on their designated A Day, while students on the B Day schedule will participate in the classroom learning virtually from home through synchronous, live stream instruction via videoconference (i.e. Google Meet).

Our District has committed extensive financial resources for the purchase of advanced technology and staff development in preparation for a more enhanced remote teaching and learning experience through synchronous, live stream instruction. The District is purchasing new interactive, touch screen laptops for teachers, along with secondary monitors for engaging and viewing remote students via video conference. Additionally, the investment in high definition cameras will improve efficiency in the delivery of instruction for teachers and the learning experience for our students. This investment in technology will also enable our schools to more effectively transition to full, virtual instruction in the future should it be necessary. Families are encouraged to purchase their own personal technology device (i.e. Chromebook or laptop). Minimum specifications for computers will be provided on our district website under the COVID tab. School issued devices will be available for use with insurance premium cost for students where necessary.

Our District will reinstate normal grading practices as we begin our new school year with these proposed modifications to instructional delivery. Discussions on the adjustment to our curriculum will continue to develop between our teachers and administration throughout the summer and into the fall. Our administrative team continues to review and revise policies for our Board of Education as we prepare for the reopening of school on September 14th.

It is important to note that any student or employee who travel out of the country or to a designated travel advisory state must self-quarantine and will not be permitted to enter our buildings for a minimum two week period. I would be remiss if I did not mention that there will be a significant reduction of visitors in all of our schools. Only visits of absolute necessity will be permitted. Under this plan, parent communication with staff shall be conducted via telephone or videoconference in lieu of in-person meetings.

Of distinct importance, parents will have the option to keep their child home for an entirely virtual learning experience each day rather than send their child to school on the proposed alternating schedule. Whttps://www.nj.gov/education/reopening/NJDOETheRoadBack.pdfe ask that parents please complete the following online survey link so our District may better understand the needs and intentions of our families. The results from this survey will allow the District to better understand the overall intentions of our families so we can effectively coordinate scheduling. Building principals will distribute an additional survey to parents in the future to identify specific parent requests for each individual student.

We recognize how the challenges of the current circumstances are impacting everyone. We all feel the gravity of these decisions and of developing protocols that allow us to reopen schools while maintaining the safety of all students and staff as our number one priority. This may not be the September that any of us envisioned. As adults, how we communicate and respond to adversity and the compromises that must be made will play a significant role in how our children respond to these challenges. Please understand that guidance from public health officials and state officials, as well as our ability as a District to most effectively operate our schools, may require the district to implement policies or procedures that differ from stakeholder and community preferences. We also understand that some of you may have more questions at this time. If that is the case, we encourage you to contact your building principal should you need further clarification. This plan is not inclusive and is subject to modifications as our District continues to prepare for the reopening of school in September. We will continue to update our District website under the COVID tab on our website with important information. Thank you for your patience, cooperation, and understanding as we navigate this situation. Stay safe and be well.

All my best,

Dr. Rui Dionisio
Superintendent of Schools

- Advertisement -


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

- Advertisement -

Hilltop Conservancy Expands Monarch Habitat

The Hilltop Conservancy was recently awarded 128 milkweed seedlings by Monarch Watch, the volunteer-based citizen science organization that...

Margaret Lampson Erdman, VHS ‘56

Margaret Jo-Anne “Joy” Erdman (Lampson) died peacefully at SunCoast Hospice on May 8. 2023 in Palm Harbor, FL...

Memorial Day 2023

Verona will mark Memorial Day on Monday, May 29, with a parade and a ceremony in front of...

Real Estate: 2 New Listings, 2 Open Houses, 0 Price Changes

It is a quieter weekend in Verona real estate, with just two new condo listings and two open...
- Advertisement -
error: Content is protected !!