TOMS RIVER, NJ – The Toms River Regional School District has announced plans to allow for students and staff to return to school in September and they are calling it a ‘blended model’.
According to the district, a blended learning model allows students to alternate from in-person learning to virtual learning. Furthermore, this type of model enables school districts to put all recommended health and safety measures in place, such as social distancing.
The district isn’t quite sure what that will look like and will continue to gather feedback from the community on the exact model. They are currently tentatively working on plans for an A/B schedule which will require students to attend in-person learning on alternating days for four hours a day, splitting the student body so that the schools will operate at 50% capacity each day.
With the A/B schedule the district will accommodate families by ensuring siblings in the same househould will attend all schools within our district on the same day.
If families with to have their children participate at different levels, that is also a possibility. Once the district’s instructional plan for 2020-21 is in place, parents will have the opportunity to make individual selections for each child.
Inside the classroom, the placement of teacher and student desks will adhere to the social distancing requirements of seating students six feet apart. The physical arrangement of the classrooms will be unique to each space.
It is not sure whether or not teachers will be required to wear masks during class as requirements and guidance for students to wear masks continues to evolve. Based on current guidance from the NJDOE, students will be required to wear masks when they cannot be socially distanced.
In the event our schools are fully virtual, all students will receive some form of daily live instruction. Students participating in a blended learning model while at home will have the opportunity to join their classrooms and may have opportunities to participate in live learning activities, but it is in the best interest of staff and students to focus on high-quality instruction in a face-to-face environment when in-person instruction is scheduled.
Choosing virtual instruction for a child will not preclude a child from participating in live instruction once a parent/guardian deems it a safe time to return. Accommodations to original plans may need to be adjusted to ensure the safety of all students and staff.
Choosing virtual instruction for a child will not preclude a child from participating in extracurricular and/or athletic activities. While decisions concerning the safe operation of extracurricular programming and athletic activities are yet to be determined, parents may need to arrange for transportation to and from activities or events.
As far as gym class goes, guidelines from the NJDOE establish that equipment cannot be shared between students, social distancing should be maintained and for secondary students, locker rooms remain closed off for students. A curriculum and Instruction Workgroup that includes administrators and physical education educators will meet to develop a comprehensive plan for the safe execution of physical education courses.
The NJDOE currently has not changed the requirements for recess. We will incorporate the required amount of time for recess while in-person learning is taking place. A schedule will be created by all elementary building principals ensuring that social distancing is taking place and the proper sanitizing of equipment is possible.
Accommodations would be made to the procedures for the transition of students from class to class to ensure compliance with social distancing measures. Accommodations may include “one-way routes” in hallways and staggered release from classrooms.
A blended-learning model will provide our community with a transportation schedule that allows the district to assign fewer students to our buses. However, many of the routes may not meet requirements in cases such as that, students will be required to wear face coverings.
An A/B schedule will provide students with alternating days of in-person and virtual instruction. Our in-person day will be a 4-hour school day.
Daily cleaning will continue, and will include disinfection of touch points both in common areas and classrooms (touch points include but are not limited to, light switches, door handles, pencil sharpeners, desk/table/counter tops, water fountains, bathroom fixtures, paper/soap/sanitizer dispensers, railings, etc.). The TRRS custodial staff will be following a Covid-19 cleaning protocol as recommended by the CDC, NJ DOE, NJ DOH, as well as the manufacturer and supplier of our disinfectants and cleaning agents. TRRS will continue to consider and investigate alternative disinfection agents, evaluate the efficacy of the overall cleaning and disinfection program, increase routine inspections, quality control efforts, and focus on providing safe and clean facilities during this unprecedented health crisis in our county and state.