Amid ‘challenging decisions,’ Moorestown settles on hybrid learning plan

Schools will reopen with in-person classes two to three days a week.

Board President Sandra Alberti opened the July 28 virtual meeting of the Moorestown Board of Education with a simple reminder about the nature of the night’s conversation on reopening schools amid a pandemic. 

“I do want to acknowledge that the needs are great, the options are not,” Alberti said. 

Superintendent Scott McCartney said he recognizes there is no perfect plan, and the district has been asked to grapple with challenging decisions. As presented Tuesday night, the district has put forth a hybrid reopening model with students attending school in person two to three days a week. Per Gov. Phil Murphy’s guidance, families will also have the option of  100-percent remote learning.

As outlined, students attending in person will be assigned to a cohort. Cohorts will either receive in-person instruction on Monday and Wednesday or Tuesday and Thursday. Cohorts will alternate Friday instruction, and all Fridays will be abbreviated days. 

McCartney explained that the district chose to operate on a shortened Friday schedule to provide time for deep cleaning the schools and a reset for the week ahead. The abbreviated day also gives staff time for planning, professional development and meetings.

The superintendent walked meeting attendees through what a day in the life of a student receiving in-person instruction will look like. He said each morning, parents or guardians should speak with their student, make sure they’re feeling well and screen them for any symptoms of COVID-19. Parents will be asked to sign on to an online from and certify they conducted a symptom check before sending the student to school.

The district encourages families to send their students to school with their own supplies to cut down on sharing and cross-contamination. It also  recommends students arrive with those supplies, a mask, hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes.

Students who opt for busing must wear a mask at their stop and maintain social distance while waiting for the bus to arrive. McCartney stressed buses will be cleaned after every run and thoroughly sanitized at least once a day. 

Entrance into school will be staggered. Once inside the building, students and staff can expect directional signs to provide sufficient spacing in the hallways, and random health checks will take place throughout the school day.

In each classroom, desks will be spaced at least 6 feet apart and each room will be equipped with hand sanitizer and wipes. Students are asked to wear masks when going to the bathroom, and in the cafeteria, they will continue to maintain 6 feet of space.

McCartney explained that students will not have access to locker rooms or athletic activities right away, but should those activities resume, health checks and mask wearing will be required.

On the days students are not attending in-person instruction, parents will still be asked to perform a morning health screening. McCartney stressed that to make the at-home environment feel more like school, students should eat breakfast before logging on to their virtual classroom, get dressed (no pajamas) and not eat or drink during instructional time.

For students in pre-K through sixth grade, after a morning meeting with their teacher, there will get both asynchronous or synchronous assignments  throughout the remainder of the day. At the seventh through 12th grade level, students will attend their class period schedule remotely with their subject-specific instructor. 

Families who choose the entirely remote option will follow a model similar to that of students who receive in-person instruction. Parents will still be asked to perform a morning health screening, and school will be delivered virtually according to cohort.

Given the extreme nature of the upcoming changes, school will start later than originally planned to allow extra time for staff to prep. The date for reopening will be moved to Sept. 8.

McCartney said the school staff recognizes people feel differently about the best way to approach education, and that there is some degree of risk associated with whatever option families choose. 

“These are very challenging decisions that all of us have to make,” he said.

To view the district’s entire school reopening presentation, visit http://www.mtps.com.