Jersey City Public School students will attend classes virtually this fall after the Jersey City Board of Education approved of the remote learning plan at a nearly five-and-a-half-hour virtual meeting on Aug. 6.
According to Superintendent Franklin Walker, the district was planning a hybrid model with in-person and remote learning.But due to recent spikes in coronavirus cases where schools have reopened nationwide, he couldn’t have students return to school.
“I cannot, and I need to say that again, I cannot in good faith ask our employees and children to return to a full in-person schedule after Labor Day,” Walker said.
“Over the last few weeks we’ve seen a resurgence of sorts with the pandemic across the U.S., especially in states that rushed to open after the initial shutdown in March and April without clear reopening plans,” he said, noting that Florida reported that 35 percent of children who returned to school tested positive for the virus.
New Jersey recently rolled back some of its reopening plans, including again reducing indoor gatherings to 25 people and preventing indoor dining from opening.
“We can not have one rule for others, and one rule for our children and teachers and expose them to risk,” Walker said. “Unless there are changes, we are not ready to go back to in-person learning.”
Reopening in phases
According to Walker, the district will slowly reopen to full in-person on-site instruction in five phases based on the latest data and trends, only fully opening when it is safe to do so.
Walker said that all instruction will be done remotely for the month of September, with district leadership and the Jersey City school board determining if the district should move to Phase 2 at the end of September.
Phase 2 consists of a hybrid-learning plan in which approximately 33 percent of the students will be in the classroom at once, so in a class of 15 students, only five will be present. In a class of 24, a maximum of eight students will be given in-person instruction.
In the hybrid model, students will be divided into three groups: A, B and C.
Each group will receive five days of in-school instruction on rotation. While group A has in-person instruction, the other two groups learn remotely, meaning students would have in-person instruction every three weeks.
In each of the subsequent phases, the percentage of students in a classroom will increase from 33 percent in Phase 2 up to 100 percent in Phase 5.
Students and staff who return to in-person instruction will have to answer a series of questions via a new mobile app to clear them before they enter the building. No one will be permitted to enter if they’ve had a fever in the previous 24 hours.
According to the district’s 81-page reopening plan, students who return to school for in-person instruction will be required to stay six feet apart, and students and teachers will be required to wear face masks.
In the classroom, when students sit at a social distance of six feet or have a physical barrier, they can remove the face covering while seated at their desks.
The district will have signs reminding students to wear a mask and keep six feet apart from one another, and schools will have sanitizer stations at various locations.
Children who take a bus to school will sit one per seat in every other row with the exception of siblings who will be allowed to sit together. This means a bus which once sat 54 people, will now seat 11.
Meals, which will be either individually plated or in prepackaged boxes and bags, will be served in classrooms or outside when possible.
The district will develop a schedule for increased routine cleaning and disinfecting, including high touch points.
For more information or to read the reopening plan go to https://tinyurl.com/JCschoolsreopen