School District Plans To Expand In-Person Learning On April 19

Schools Superintendent John Ravally said in a March 3 letter that students attending school in person will do so every week starting April 19. (File photo).

Students who attend school in person will do so every week – rather than attend school remotely on alternate weeks – starting on April 19, the schools Superintendent said on March 3.

Schools Superintendent John Ravally said in a letter to parents that feedback from a recent survey showed district officials that those students who choose in-person learning wish to be in school more than just every other week.

As a result, as of April 19, rather than have students who attend remotely and students who attend on the hybrid in-person/remote plan, students will be divided into those who attend in person and those who attend remotely, Ravally said.

The in-person learners will still attend Monday through Thursday, with remote asynchronous learning on Fridays, Ravally said in his letter.

Students currently learning remotely will be able to switch to in-person, and vice-versa, before the new plan takes affect, Ravally wrote.

Currently, students who participate in the hybrid remote/in-person program are divided into two groups, Blue and Gold. A third group, the Green cohort, is comprised of special needs students who attend only in-person.

Beginning April 19, the Blue, Green and Gold groups will be combined into a new group, known as the Purple group, Ravally said in his letter.

The district had been contemplating changing the asynchronous Fridays – during which students would work on assignments on their own schedules – with synchronous learning, which would have all students on line at the same time with their teachers.

But feedback gathered from the district’s survey showed officials that parents and students did not want that change made, Ravally said in his letter.

Ravally said in his letter that Gov. Phil Murphy’s recent decision to allow teachers to receive the COVID-19 vaccine starting March 15 helped the district decide to expand the in-person learning program in schools.

While parents will be able to choose whether their students attend in-person or remotely prior to the start date, “we will ask families to commit to the Fully Remote or Purple Cohort for the entire 4th quarter of the year as this will help us to better manage items such as class sizes and bus capacities of the newly created Purple Cohort,” Ravally said in his letter.

Ravally said in his letter that more information on deadline for choosing in-person or remote learning will be released the week of March 8.

“We will continue to monitor the number of students enrolled in the Purple Cohort to ensure that we are able to remain within the safe capacity limits for all district spaces before opening to this new model on April 19th,” Ravally wrote in his letter. “We will be sure to keep the information regarding the blue, gold, green and fully remote groups in case we are forced to return to this model for any reason in the future.”

Ravally also wrote that feedback from the surveys showed district officials that “a very large percentage of those who responded led us to believe that the current program, although not perfect, is reasonably addressing student needs in these challenging times.”

“We also learned that families, students and teachers feel mostly satisfied with access to technical support and resources,” he wrote.

“One of the biggest challenges during the pandemic has been to provide student to student interactions,” Ravally wrote. “The survey data reveal this remains our greatest challenge.”

“As warmer weather approaches, more and more people become vaccinated and the number of Covid-19 cases lessen, we hope to provide more opportunities that will increase this type of interaction,” Ravally wrote. “Of course, we will balance our efforts to increase student to student interactions with our responsibility to remain diligent in our efforts to reduce transmission of the Covid-19 virus.”

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