February 11, 2021
Dear Parents and Guardians, Staff Members, and Students:
Last summer, all districts were required to convene a District Reopening Committee to create a plan to reopen schools following the mandated closure that was put in place by Governor Murphy last spring in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Montville Township Public Schools had a committee that involved the participation of parents, teachers, school nurses, supervisors, administrators, board of education members, the school physician, and representatives from the Montville Township Health Department. The plan was submitted to the New Jersey Department of Education and approved as meeting all of the criteria established to reopen schools. The plan was then approved by the Montville Township Board of Education in August. Once the district re-opened, the management and evaluation of the plan shifted to the district’s administrative team.
Since September, the administrative team has discussed the plan monthly. At our meeting this week, we determined that effective March 1st, the district will eliminate virtual Wednesday at all grade levels.
At the elementary level, in-person students will attend five days per week.
At the middle and high school levels, attendance on Wednesday will alternate between Cohort A and Cohort B.
Cohort A in-person students will attend on Wednesday, March 3rd, and attend virtually on March 10th. Cohort B in-person students will attend virtually on Wednesday, March 3rd, and in-person on March 10th and so forth.
This change will be implemented as of March 1st to enable our principals to make necessary scheduling changes and to provide time for our staff members to make any necessary child care arrangements.
At the present time, the middle and high school administrators are reviewing their schedules to determine if a combination of cohorts might be possible to provide more days of in-person instruction and still enable us to maintain proper social distancing in the classrooms. That would be our next phase and I hope to be able to provide an update on that within the next couple of weeks.
Deep cleaning will still occur after school hours weekly at the elementary level and between the cohorts at the middle and high school levels.
I recognize that parents would like us to resume a full-day schedule. At the present time, we are unable to offer a full day due to the fact that it would require a lunch period. Normally this is accomplished by having the students eat in large groups in the cafeteria or all-purpose room. In a pandemic scenario, the recommendation is to have students eat in their classrooms to minimize the interaction between students. As we are contractually required to provide the teachers with a duty-free lunch period, we do not have adequate staff to provide someone to supervise the students at lunch. The district does not have funds available in our budget to hire the necessary additional staff to supervise the lunch period. Federal CARES (COVID) funds that the district received are not available for this purpose as they were expended to purchase applications to support online (virtual) learning platforms, disinfectant, hand sanitizer, and personal protective equipment, H.V.A.C. system cleaning, and materials to address social distancing and to support other COVID-19 protocols for the safe operation of our schools.
I want to thank all of our district administrators and teachers for their continued dedication in providing instruction to our students in such a challenging environment. I am also grateful to our parents and guardians for your ongoing support. To our students, I can only say that your spirit and persistence is amazing. You have dealt with unique circumstances and I continue to be impressed with what you have accomplished.
René T. Rovtar, Ed.D.
Montville Township Superintendent of Schools