Update: march 20, 2020

March 20, 2020
Dear Parents,

Due to the Executive Order from Governor Murphy on March 16. 2020, directing, “All public, private, and parochial preschool programs, and elementary and secondary schools, including charter and renaissance schools, will be closed beginning on Wednesday, March 18, 2020, and remain closed as long as the Order remains in effect,” we now expect this closure to extend beyond our initial timeline and as such we are moving into a more structured learning environment for next week.
These virtual days will continue to count toward our 180 school days and we are working with our teachers and students to create an online environment that works for our district’s unique needs and unique strengths.  We have heard your feedback that 7:30am is an early virtual start. Beginning Monday, our “online” day will begin at 8:30am.
Many of our teachers have been conducting trial classes using the Zoom platform.  These trials have gone well. We recognize that we will need to use a variety of instructional and technology methods to teach during the closure.   We also recognize that an extended closure means that we need to provide additional support to our students. We will move into a more structured learning cycle starting next week.  
On Monday and Tuesday, we will begin our day at 8:30 and from 8:30-12:30, we will run a straight-8 half-day schedule.  Each period will run for approximately 20 minutes. We understand that this is not long enough to teach a lesson, but our goal for Monday and Tuesday is to practice with and learn about the different technology.  Not all classes will hold a Zoom, some will watch a video, assign independent work, or engage in a real-time chat. We ask that students try to follow the structured schedule and “move” from class to class for these two days.
Starting Wednesday, we will move into a half-day rotating block schedule from 8:30-12:30 daily. Students will receive detailed information about this via email and from their teachers.
We know not every student is able to get online between the hours of 8:30-12:30.  We ask that you remember that these are virtual school days and in turn, we will continue to provide flexibility to students who reach out to their teachers and explain any conflicts that they may have.  That said, the feedback that we have gotten from these trials is that the students really found a benefit from the structure and those who participated in Zoom really liked “seeing” and connecting with their peers and teachers.
If you cannot access Zoom due to your internet connection, there is always a dial-in option that uses just a phone line.  Please be sure to communicate with your teachers so that we can support your child appropriately.  
We expect students to complete the work assigned and we will continue to be flexible in accepting completed work beyond school hours; however, students will need to sign on to Google Classroom before 12:00 in order to be counted as present for the day, just like they have been doing this week.
If you need assistance with your phone or internet, many providers are offering discounts during the crisis.  If you receive free or reduced lunch, you may automatically qualify for Universal Service Discounts: https://www.fcc.gov/general/universal-service
The District will continue to implement our virtual learning plan in order to provide student instruction for the duration of this Executive Order. At this point, the reopening of school will be determined by Governor Murphy. 
We appreciate your cooperation during our first week of virtual instruction. We think these next two days will provide valuable insight into how we will move forward.  This is uncharted territory for all of us, but our community has proven resilient and strong. We thank you for your patience, flexibility, and support.  

As always, if your child is distraught and needs assistance, please reach out to their guidance counselor.  Our Guidance Department compiled a list of resources available 24 hours a day, it is in a tab on our website, “School Closure Mental Health Resources” and we will continue to update it: 

As always, please do not hesitate to reach out to us with any questions or concerns.

Sarah Bilotti