The West Milford Board of Education voted Tuesday to begin the first four weeks of the 2020-2021 school year completely online, district-wide and delay implementing the district’s hybrid “Return to School Plan” until Oct. 1.
Continuing health and safety concerns, clarification of required cleaning/sanitizing protocols and identification of staff responsible to carry out those specific tasks within time limit constraints, special equipment order holdups, and shortage of available teaching staff, were some of the issues that were brought forth for discussion by the school board, subsequently causing district administrators and the BOE to take pause and contemplate postponing the start of in-person instruction to address these issues.
In the letter dated Aug. 19, Superintendent of Schools Dr. Alex Anemone wrote: “I am writing this letter to reaffirm our commitment to reopen our school buildings in September for in-person learning....If the reopening of our school buildings leads to additional threats to public health, this plan is subject to change to an all remote option for all students.”
During the July BOE meeting, BOE President Lynda VanDyk commented during discussion of the district’s hybrid plan options, that “as a school board there’s certain things we have to be concerned about, and I think our priority is the safety of the students and the staff, then education and giving students what they need (from schools) second, and then taking into account day care; although we all need those things - but we will be able to get the kids to thrive a little with some kind of continuity - I think that is important.”
Distance learning requests
At the time, according to Anemone, more than 600 students had requested the 100 percent distance learning option offered to families; leaving the projected average enrollment for the district’s hybrid A Day/B Day program estimated to be 1,302; and for each school:
• Apshawa: 86 students
• Maple Road: 125 students
• Marshall Hill: 107 students
• Paradise Knoll: 82 students
• Upper Greenwood Lake: 95 students
• Westbrook: 92 students
• Macopin: 303 students
• WMHS: 412 students
But the situation changed over the past week.
Administrators comment on changes
Anemone sent an update letter via email to the WMTPS Community on Aug. 26, stating that the district’s “Return to School Plan” was amended. He wrote: “A summary of changes can be found below:
• All district schools will begin the 2020-2021 school year on a distance learning model for a period of four weeks.
• The first day of distance learning for all students will be Thursday, Sept. 3.
• Instructional hours for each building:
• WMHS 7:18 a.m. - 1:57 p.m.
• Highlander Academy 7:30 a.m. - 2:09 p.m.
• Macopin 7:30 a.m. - 2:09 p.m.
• Elementary 8:35 a.m. - 2:50 p.m.
• Pre - K a.m. 8:35 a.m. - 11:10 a.m.
• Pre - K p.m. 12:15 p.m. - 2:50 p.m.
• An email will be sent to all students (K-12) on Sept. 1. This email will contain log-in and schedule information for their Google Meet on the first day of school. Parents will receive a Honeywell email message with the log-in schedule and pertinent information.
• Our K-5 Parent Portal will open at 3:00 p.m. on Friday, August 28.
• All videoconferencing will be switched from Zoom to Google Meet.
• Our school buildings will be open for in-person learning on Thursday, October 1.
• We are looking for replacement teachers (long-term substitutes and tenure track) for our District. Available positions have been posted on our website: https://www.applitrack.com/wmtps/onlineapp/.”