Return to Headlines

August 2020 Revision to the Ewing Schools Restart and Recovery Plan 2020-2021

Immediate Release 

Ewing Schools Reopening Update: Thursday, August 20th            5PM

Revision to the Ewing Schools Restart and Recovery Plan 

Dear Ewing School Community, 

Please take the time to read this correspondence carefully, as it contains important information about potential changes to the Ewing Schools’ reopening plans.  I tried to make it as concise and lucid as possible, but know that we are available if you have any questions or concerns. 

As you are aware, as mandated by the Department of Education, we have been using the guidelines contained in their “Restart and Recovery Plan for Education” to develop a plan for our students to return to in-school learning.

 The details of the Ewing Schools’ Restart and Recovery Plan were widely disseminated and communicated, approved by the Board of Education at its July 27th meeting, and forwarded to the Department of Education as required. 

Since that date, our administrative team has been working hard to put this plan into action and prepare our schools while also keeping a watchful eye on public health developments and any shift in guidance from the state. 

Last week, Governor Murphy released Executive Order 175, giving schools the option to begin the school year with remote instruction.  However, if you read the Executive Order, or watched the Governor’s press conference, the following points were made clear: The Governor and the Departments of Health and Education believe that it is appropriate to open schools and students should be returning to their classrooms. 

Indeed, the Executive Order stipulates that any decision to open up school remotely must be accompanied by an explanation of why the district is not bringing back students and an anticipated date when students will be returning to classrooms. 

That being acknowledged, our reopening process has always been driven by the following key factors: 

  • The health and safety of our students and staff
  • Continuity of high-quality instruction in any format for our students
  • The needs and concerns of our community as expressed through our survey process 

Taking those factors into consideration, and reflecting upon the flexibility now provided by the Department of Education, we have decided to change our plan and move to a “phase-in” approach to return students to their schools.  This means that we will be bringing back students to their classroom in stages, because we believe that this is the best way to manage this challenging process during a public health crisis, evaluate the efficacy of our health practices and protocols, and navigate potential problems and obstacles. 

As a result, I will be recommending the following changes to our Restart and Recovery Plan to the Board of Education for approval at the August 24th meeting. 

************************************************************************** 

The first day of school for all district students, both those who have selected our Virtual Learning Program 2.0 and “in-school students” will be changed to Wednesday, September 9th. 

This gives the school district an extra day to distribute technology and materials, continue to prepare our facilities, and provide additional professional development to our staff on important topics. 

Now the details below relate only to the families and students who have selected “in-school learning” as their educational programming. It has no impact on students districtwide who have registered for our Virtual Learning Program 2.0.  Teachers are being assigned to these students and schedules are being readied for distribution. The school year for all VLP students will begin remotely on September 9th with their scheduled teachers. 

Key Date Changes at a Glance

(All grade levels will follow an Early Dismissal Schedule to start the school year.)

September 9th: Grades K-2/SE “in-school” students return/All others grades begin virtual studies

September 29th: Grades 3-5 “in-school” students return to school

October 12th: Fisher Middle School “in-school” students return/Blended Learning (A Day)

October 26th: Ewing High School “in-school” students return/Blended Learning (A Day) 

Antheil, Lore and Parkway Elementary “In-School” Educational Programming Revisions 

Before we begin, a quick look at our numbers for students returning to in-school instruction.  Please keep in mind that these numbers may change a bit as we open school: 

Lore: 184 students  (K-2:  88/3-5: 96)

Parkway: 196 students (K-2: 73/3-5: 123)

Antheil: 345 students (K-2: 168/ 3-5: 177) 

Programming Changes 

  • Students in Grades PreK-2 will start in-person instruction on Wednesday, September 9th.
  • Students in Grades 3-5 will start school virtually.
  • Students in Grades 3-5 will begin in-person instruction on Tuesday, September 29th.
  • All students will follow the Elementary School Early Dismissal Schedule to start the year (9:00AM-1:40PM).
  • Free EDP/Child Care will be provided for students if needed from 1:40PM to 4:00PM. (preregistration required-please contact the school main office as soon as possible if needed)
  • For students in Grades 3-5, we are working to provide a Free Virtual Learning Support/Child Care Center for in-school families with a child care hardship on school days from September 9th to September 25th. If needed, please contact your principal as soon as possible to register. 

Overview/Rationale 

As stated in the earliest of our “Return to School” correspondences, our community survey revealed that elementary families expressed the most frustration with remote learning. Consequently, it was a priority to return our primary students to the classroom in as safe a way as possible. All other aspects of our approved and communicated elementary plan will remain in place, including the instructional pod/academic-enrichment cycle approach. Transportation will be provided, but again, we encourage parents to transport students if possible, although the “phase-in” approach should translate to decreased students on the bus. Lunch, as previously described, will be a part of the elementary schedule.  The impetus behind starting the school year with the early dismissal schedule is that we heard from many parents who felt that the day was too long for the children considering some of the mask-wearing and social distancing mandates, in addition to other logistical concerns.  Please note that free EDP/Child Care will be offered after the school day ends at 1:40PM. Regular EDP will begin at 4:00PM at a cost.  Perhaps most importantly, this “phase-in” approach allows us the opportunity to implement our health, safety, cleaning and facility protocols with a smaller number of staff and students.  As student and staff safety is our main priority, this approach gives us the opportunity to see if any changes or adjustments in our procedures are needed prior to expanding. 

Fisher Middle School “In-School” Educational Programming Revisions 

Before we begin, a quick look at our numbers for students returning to in-school instruction at FMS.  Please keep in mind that these numbers may change a bit as we open school: 

Grade 6: 124

Grade 7: 134

Grade 8: 136

Total: 394 

This means that during a typical day of in-school learning at FMS with our hybrid/blended approach, approximately 200 students will be in the building.

Programming Changes 

All Fisher Middle School students will begin school remotely on September 9th, following an early dismissal schedule (8:25AM-12:55PM) with their assigned teachers virtually. 

Fisher Middle Schools is scheduled to begin their in-person hybrid/blended (A/B Day) schedule with students returning to school on Monday, October 12th. 

Overview/Rationale 

As stated previously, starting the school year virtually at the middle school level gives us more time to evaluate our planning and processes, evaluate the public health situation, and refine our operations and procedures.  Furthermore, based upon the recently released Department of Health conditions for quarantining and closing school due to COVID-19 concerns, it seems quite possible that our schools may have to pivot to fully virtual at some point. Opening up remotely at the secondary level enables us to establish a high-quality virtual program that includes synchronous (student working directly with the class) and asynchronous (student working independent from the class) and is aligned with the traditional early dismissal school day.  This would then help us in transitioning effectively to the hybrid schedule on October 12th.   If we then have to move completely to virtual learning, the objective is for staff and students to be well-prepared, equipped and trained to make it as seamless and effective as possible. 

Ewing High School “In-School” Educational Programming Revisions 

Before we begin, a quick look at our numbers for students returning to in-school instruction at EHS.  Please keep in mind that these numbers may change a bit as we open school: 

Grade 9: 114

Grade 10: 133

Grade 11: 129

Grade 12: 136

Total: 512 

This means that during a typical day of in-school learning with our hybrid/blended approach at EHS, approximately 250 students will be in the building. 

Programming Change 

All Ewing High School students will begin school remotely on Wednesday, September 9th, following an early dismissal schedule (7:45AM-12:15PM) with their assigned teachers virtually. 

Ewing High School is scheduled to begin their in-person hybrid/blended A/B day-schedule with students returning to school on Monday, October 26th. 

Overview/Rationale 

In addition to the advantageous reasons stated earlier, there were certain challenges to building our virtual and hybrid program at Ewing High School that make it logical to start the school year remotely. The high school student enrollment in our Virtual Learning Program and the “in-school” program ended up being pretty much a 50/50 split. Due to the complexity of a high school schedule, with many different teacher certifications, graduation requirements, honors classes, electives and singletons, our Virtual Learning Program 2.0 must be integrated with the “in-school” program, rather than a dedicated “stand-alone” VLP like we will have at the elementary and middle school level.  This means some of our EHS teachers may have students in their class who will be returning to school, and others who will remain remote.  Embracing this approach allows our teachers to build a robust, sustainable virtual curriculum, that can be delivered both digitally and in-person, and develop a connection with all students that will continue as students return to the classroom. 

Special Education Instructional Programing/Innovative Programming Notes 

All (K-5) Multiply Disabled and Autistic students in our elementary schools will begin September 9th in the early dismissal schedule. (afterschool care is available) 

Full Day Preschool Disabled in-person program will follow a 9:30AM-1:00PM schedule (Antheil Only). 

Half Day Preschool Disabled sessions will follow the traditional schedule (Parkway Only):-AM session 9:15AM-11:45PM