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School District Seeks To Delay In-Person Learning

With 39 percent of students opting for the remote learning learning plan for the 2020-21 school year, the district is asking for County permission to delay the start of in-person learning until November 30.

Schools Superintendent John Ravally said in an August 18 phone blast to district families that the district decided to ask the Somerset County Executive County Superintendent for permission to delay the start of in-person instruction this Fall “(a)fter a lengthy discussion during our district re-entry committee meeting this afternoon.”

Ravally’s message did not indicate the reasons for this move.

As of August 18, 2,606 requests to opt-out of the in-person hybrid program were received by the district, district spokeswoman Mary Clark said in an email. There are 6,831 students in the district, she wrote.

That number includes more than 40 percent of students in five of the district’s 10 schools, including Franklin High School

“Families can still opt into the fully remote program via a new form on the school’s websites,” she wrote.

The district announced last month that it would offer two options for learning in the 2020-21 school year, fully remote and a hybrid in-person plan.

Under the hybrid plan, students would be divided into two groups, with one group attending school in person Mondays through Thursdays one week and the second group learning remotely.

The second group would attend school in-person during the next week, with the first group learning remotely.

Fridays would be used for teacher programs and to give teh schools thorough cleanings.

A number of districts in the state have opted to at least open all-remotely since the August 12 Executive Order by Gov. Phil Murphy allowing them to do so.

According to Clark, this is the breakdown of the number of students who opted out of in-person learning by school, as of Aug. 17:

  • Claremont Elementary School: 261 = about 41 percent
  • Conerly Road School: 148 = about 42 percent
  • Elizabeth Avenue School: 177 = about 35 percent
  • Franklin Park School: 286 = about 46 percent
  • Hillcrest School: 132 = about 34 percent
  • MacAfee Road School: 140 = about 39 percent
  • Pine Grove Manor School: 79 = about 24 percent
  • Franklin Middle School Hamilton Street Campus: 224 = about 34 percent
  • Franklin Middle School Sampson G. Smith Campus: 321 = about 42 percent
  • Franklin High School: 835 = About 40 percent

In the phone blast, Ravally said, “We will be sharing additional information over the next few days that speaks to the reasons why this is necessary and what an all district remote learning program will look like.”

Board of Education president Nancy LaCorte said she gathered a consensus of board members on August 17, which was to delay the opening of in-person learning, and authorized Ravally to seek the permission.

“Restarting the school year is a topic that the board takes very seriously,” LaCorte said in an email. “The health and safety of our students, staff, and visitors to our schools is the #1 goal that we just voted on last week.”

“Our ultimate goal is to have our staff and students reunited in safe schools,” LaCorte wrote. “We cannot do that at this time which is why we have made the difficult decision to delay our start of in-person instruction.”


Editor’s Note: This is a developing story. It will be updated as more information is received.

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