District amends back to school plan

West Milford. West Milford Public Schools will remove Wednesday as a distance learning day, with that day scheduled for “deep cleaning” while also making changes to the special education schedule for the 2020-21 school year. Parents need to choose between hybrid and virtual learning by Aug. 15.

13 Aug 2020 | 10:35

Wednesday will be removed as part of a “distance learning day” as part of a revised plan announced by West Milford Public Schools Superintendent Alex Anemone on Monday.

The original plan was approved by the Board of Education on July 28.

While students learn remotely on Wednesdays, the buildings will be “deep cleaned”, and instead alternating Wednesdays each week between student Groups A & B as an additional “in person instruction day”.

Deep cleaning will be completed by “second shift” custodial personnel each day.

Science-driven decisions for safe school opening

“Since the July 28 Board meeting, our constituents have provided us with feedback,” Anemone said. “As we always strive to do, the Board has made every effort to accommodate our community’s desire for additional in-person instruction.”

Anemone quoted a recent statement by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP): “Returning to school is important for the healthy development and well-being of children, but we must pursue re-opening in a way that is safe for all students, teachers, and staff. Science should drive decision-making on safely reopening schools.”

“To that end, we aim to simultaneously open schools and maintain public health,” Anemone said.

Some special education students who are eligible to attend school on both A Days and B Days will have in-person classes five days per week.

Elementary students enrolled in specific reading programs who are eligible to attend school on both A Days and B Days will have in-person classes five days per week.

Anemone said, “The District believes this continuity of instruction will assist our students in their academic recovery this autumn.”

Parents may choose to have their child begin school in the District’s in person/distance learning “Hybrid A Day/B Day model” or via the District’s “100% Distance Learning option”.

For families that select the 100 percent distance learning option: it should be noted that “this option will include no in-person schooling”.

“At the elementary level, the District will create a ‘virtual section’ for each grade level, K-5,” Anemone said. “This section will be taught by a certified West Milford teacher, though not necessarily from your child’s school.”

For distance learning at the secondary level (Macopin Middle School and West Milford High School), Anemone said, “a similar approach will be used, but teachers will be assigned to virtual classes by subject, not by grade.”

Anemone also said that the District’s “Updated Plan” is also subject to change - pending additional recommendations from the Department of Education or increased threats to public health.

Deadline to submit choice

Parents can submit their requests for the 100 percent distance learning option in writing (email is acceptable) to their child’s School Principal no later than Aug. 15.

“Once enrolled in this 100 percent distance learning option, students will remain for a period of not less than six weeks”, Anemone said. “After Oct. 15, parents can decide to move their child back into our hybrid A Day/B Day model.”

Alternately, Anemone said students who return to school via the District’s “Hybrid A Day/B Day Model” in September; may, after Oct. 15, change to the “100% Distance Learning Option” for six weeks.

“I apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused,” Anemone wrote. “If you have any concerns, please do not hesitate to call my office to discuss.”

Special Services

Parents of Students with Special Needs were notified on Thursday by Dr. Elizabeth McQuaid - Director of Special Services, and Nina Pearsall - Supervisor of Special Services, regarding the “Return to School Plan” changes that may specifically affect their children’s program schedules.

In the notification, it was stated, “In the revised plan, the Board made every effort to accommodate the community’s desire for additional in-person instruction. Your voice as special education parents and your desire for in-person instruction and direct student contact time was heard at our last Special Education Parent Advisory Committee (SEPAC) meeting and your concerns were shared.”

All who wish to attend the next SEPAC meeting must email helen.franke @wmtps.org in order to receive the access link invitation to the virtual meeting.

Summary of changes
Wednesday will no longer be a distance learning day for all students.
• Wednesdays will alternate between Group A Days and Group B Days for in-person instruction and distance learning.
Proposed Schedule
Week 1
Monday, Tuesday & Wednesday Group A will have in person learning, and Group B will have distance learning online.
Thursday & Friday Group B will have in person learning, and Group A will have distance learning online.(So AAABB for in person learning for odd number weeks.)
Week 2-Monday & Tuesday Group A will have in person learning, andGroup B will have distance learning online.
Wednesday, Thursday & Friday Group B will have in person learning, and Group A will have distance learning online.(So AABBB for in person learning for even number weeks.)
Note: All in-person learning days will remain as “Early Dismissal Days”.
• In lieu of a closing school buildings on Wednesdays for deep cleaning, the district will utilize the second shift of custodial personnel *2:30 p.m. - 11:00 p.m. or 3:00 p.m. - 11:30 p.m.) to clean the buildings after students and staff vacate the buildings.
Special services changes
All elementary students in resource programs and/or specialized programs will now attend school in-person, 5 days per week, on an early dismissal schedule.
All Macopin and High School students in specialized (self-contained)
programs will also attend school in person, 5 days per week, on an early dismissal schedule.
Macopin and High School resource center students will follow the district’s Hybrid A Day/B Day schedule for in-person instruction with an additional in-person day (Wednesday) every other week.
The district’s complete, thirty-page, updated “Return to School Plan” is available to view on the district’s website at: https://wmtps.org/what_s_new/2020-2021_return_to_school_plan_-_updated_
“Since the July 28 Board meeting, our constituents have provided us with feedback,” Anemone said. “As we always strive to do, the Board has made every effort to accommodate our community’s desire for additional in-person instruction.”
Alex Anemone
West Milford Public Schools Superintendent