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Bayonne school district lays out hybrid instruction model

Bayonne Superintendent of Schools John Niesz addressed parents at a Board of Education meeting in March.
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Bayonne Superintendent of Schools John Niesz addressed parents at a Board of Education meeting in March.

The Bayonne school district has designed a hybrid model of instruction that will be implemented upon the students’ return to classrooms on May 3.

“We thank you for your dedication as we continue our remote learning plan,” Superintendent of Schools John Niesz said in a recent letter to the community.

Niesz announced in March that the district will return to classrooms using a hybrid instruction model in May. Under current virtual instruction, teachers have been conducting live sessions from either their classrooms at school or their homes through an online learning system called Schoology.com.

Returning to classrooms

Over the summer, the district decided to remain virtual for the 2020-2021 school year. Each month since school started in September the plan was reevaluated to determine if a return to the classrooms was possible. The main factors holding up the return to in-person learning were the need to vaccinate teachers and renovate schools to make them safe.

Since then, the district has been able to get all school employees vaccinated. May 3 will mark two weeks after all employees received their second doses, Niesz said. This is the approximate amount of time it takes to achieve full immunity after receiving the second dose.

School renovations have been completed with the help of federal funding. Many buildings are more than 87 years old and needed upgrades to ventilation among other precautions.

For the past few weeks, families were surveyed as to whether or not their students would stay under virtual instruction or opt for hybrid instruction. Following the end of the survey on April 7, the district has compiled the results and laid out a plan.

Hybrid model

Students who opted for hybrid instruction will be divided into two groups, Cohort A and Cohort B. Family members will be prioritized to be in the same cohort.

On Mondays and Tuesdays, Cohort A will report to school buildings. On those days, Cohort B will be virtual.

All students and faculty will be virtual on Wednesdays. Niesz said this will allow for a smooth transition and ensure that buildings are thoroughly disinfected for the next cohort on Thursdays.

On Thursdays and Fridays, Cohort B will report to school buildings. On those days, Cohort A will be virtual.

Students who opted for remote instruction will remain remote until the end of the school year. The student schedule will be the same every week.

Preparations in place

“As we begin our return you will note in our buildings, including but not limited to, in all rooms plastic desktop barriers, in every room an Odorox Commercial Air Purifier, hand sanitizers, face masks will be available, rooms and buildings are disinfected regularly,” Niesz said. “We will also have a COVID testing site at Veterans Stadium available every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, as well as, in schools as needed.”

Signs will show frequent hand washing, social distancing, and arrows for movement in the buildings. The district will be screening temperatures before anyone enters a building.

“With the availability of the COVID-19 vaccine for all of our employees and the aforementioned, we are confident we can return safely at this time,” Niesz said.

Five days a week?

According to Niesz, the district will expand the in-person portion of the hybrid instruction model if all goes well with the return to classrooms. If the district can complete the month of May with no COVID-19 outbreaks in the school, it will transition to five days a week of instruction in June.

“We will keep our community apprised of our progress during the month of May,” Niesz said. “We will also be sending much more information to our community. We will be sending a more encompassing letter and plan to our community in the coming weeks.”

Niesz said he is looking forward to the district’s return to its buildings. A return to full in-person instruction is anticipated for September.

For updates on this and other stories, check www.hudsonreporter.com and follow us on Twitter @hudson_reporter. Daniel Israel can be reached at disrael@hudsonreporter.com.

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