- Advertisement -

School Reopening Plan Moves Away From In-Person Learning For Most Students


Share post:

- Advertisement -

The big announcement came more than 60 minutes into last night’s Board of Education meeting: Verona’s schools will be stepping back from having some in-person learning for most students. The schools will now reopen under stage 2 of its four-stage plan instead of stage 3, and staying in stage 2 until November 6. The change was prompted by staff shortages and window replacements that are behind schedule at F.N. Brown and H.B. Whitehorne, and not the increase in coronavirus cases in Verona.

Stage 2 means that only a small number of Verona students will be in school buildings, those from pre-K through first grade and special education students. Verona has a limited public school pre-K program for both special ed and general education students, that operates from Laning Avenue School.

In stage 2, three-year-olds will have class in person on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday mornings, while four-year-olds will be in school on those days in the afternoons. Kindergarten and first grade students will alternate in groups in the mornings and have remote learning only in the afternoons. All other elementary, middle and high schools students, except for special education students, will have to attend all classes remotely.

While the number of positive cases of COVID-19 in Verona has risen 21% since the school year ended in June, and we have now had 15 deaths, they are not the primary cause of the decision. Stage 3, which would have had roughly 25% of students in a school building at any time, was predicated in part on being about to opening classroom windows to increase air circulation. But there are windows at HBW and Brown that don’t open properly that had been slated for replacement under the referendum and the delivery of those windows has been delayed by the virus. 

Verona is also having trouble getting enough people to staff the schools for in-person instruction. Superintendent Dr. Rui Dionisio said Monday night that between resignations and requests for leaves of absence, Verona is now 60 people short of the number it needs to operate, including teachers, paraprofessionals and staff, and it is having great difficulty getting substitutes to work in person. “We’re facing a real serious situation,” he said. “The numbers on this are not likely to get better.”

In an email to school parents today, Dionisio said that going stage 2 could help Verona to better meet the new protocols from the New Jersey Department of Health.. “Stage 2 of our school reopening plan will allow us to most effectively address these guidelines based on our current constraints,” he wrote. “Stage 2 will also provide an increase to the amount of instructional time for most of our students when compared to Stage 3 of our reopening plan. We recognize that this change in the schedule will create challenges for some families. This plan, although not ideal for everyone, is necessary in order to most effectively deliver teaching and learning for our children while ensuring the safe operation of our schools.”

The school districts around Verona are taking a variety of approaches to reopening. Caldwell will be all remote for all grades until October 7 except for some self-contained special education classes. Montclair will also be all-remote, but has not set an end date for that. Cedar Grove has split students in all grades into two groups, with each group in the building for half a day Monday through Thursday and remote learning in the afternoon. Parents and guardians in any district can elect to have students learn remotely full time. (UPDATE 08/28: Cedar  Grove is opening with all-virtual instruction.)

Dionisio said that Verona parents should expect to get more information from their building principals soon about schedules and other matters. Verona has created a COVID-19 information page on the schools website. You can access it here.

You can watch the August 24 Board of Education meeting here; the referendum construction update begins about 40 minutes into the meeting and the reopening stage plan update is at about the one-hour mark.

- Advertisement -
Virginia Citrano
Virginia Citranohttps://myveronanj.com
Virginia Citrano grew up in Verona. She moved away to write and edit for The Wall Street Journal’s European edition, Institutional Investor, Crain’s New York Business and Forbes.com. Since returning to Verona, she has volunteered for school, civic and religious groups, served nine years on the Verona Environmental Commission and is now part of Sustainable Verona. She co-founded MyVeronaNJ in 2009. You can reach Virginia at [email protected]


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

- Advertisement -

Related articles

Softball Falls To Whippany Park In Semifinals

It was a scoreless grind for nine full innings yesterday afternoon, when Verona High School softball took on...

What’s Next for VHS ‘23: Undecided Major At Princeton

Before applying for college, it is common for students to wonder if pursuing higher education is the right...

Baseball’s Season Ends In Playoff Semifinals

After a choppy season, Verona High School baseball seemed to catch a second wind in the NJSIAA North...

Youth Orchestras To Hold Auditions

The Youth Orchestras of Essex County is accepting auditions for the 2023-24 school year. The organization, which was...
- Advertisement -
error: Content is protected !!