Specifics on what school will look like for students in the Clearview Regional High School District this fall were discussed at a July 30 board of education meeting.
Superintendent John Horchak shared the district’s plan to move forward with a hybrid model of learning, but he cautioned the plan could change based on results of transportation and remote- option surveys, as well as the Mantua Township School District’s plans. Clearview has a contract with Mantua to provide school transportation for the township.
School restart plans in the Clearview district were formulated by five subcommittees: curriculum and instructional technology, health and wellness, operations, governance and facilities and transportation. All five have met on a weekly basis with each other, with a larger, district-wide meeting held every other week.
“Our priority remains to maintain the health and safety of our students and staff, while infusing the maximum amount of live, synchronous instruction as possible,” Horchak stated.
Polarizing views on reopening have divided communities in the area, he continued, but each decision was made and modified based on statistics and the ability to properly educate children in a safe environment.
The proposed hybrid option would have students in the middle and high schools roughly five hours a day with a rotating period schedule. Students would be divided in two cohorts, A and B, and to alleviate pressure on transportation, those would ideally be decided based on where a student lives. Some students from Harrison Township could be bundled with Mantua Township or vice versa, depending on survey results.
The hope is that students in one family can be grouped together in one cohort. It is unknown if the same cohorts would apply to elementary students.
“Clearview Regional plans on having our middle- and high-school students at 50 percent of our population in every other day, five days a week …” Horchak explained. “We believe five days is our best approach for supervised instruction, especially because we don’t know if this is planned for a week, a month or a year.”
A student in cohort A would come to school every other day, and their eight periods of class met throughout those days. Day one would consist of five periods of regular academics and either a physical education or social emotional learning class at the end. Day two picks up where day one left off, but remotely, at sixth period. Cohorts are not set by the day of the week.
District-owned Chromebooks would be issued to every student to ensure equity in remote instruction. Further information on students who have special needs is individualized and the child study team is being consulted on options.
All classes would be synchronous to both the in-person and virtual instructions, where a student at home receives the same lesson as those in person. Ideally, virtual instruction would be done with video, but some courses may only have the option of audio, depending on the teacher.
One-way hallways are being reviewed to keep the flow of foot traffic in a singular direction.
Lab classes, home economics and certain elective classes (music, robotics, etc.) are expected to be delivered with both options, but are dependent on how the departments sets up the process. Classroom modifications will be made to keep students apart, but to further mitigate the spread of COVID-19, all students and staff are required to wear masks all day.
Students at home would have a structured school schedule to follow and would log in for accountability purposes. Grading would operate the same and completion of assignments falls on students, all of whom are expected to log in around 8 a.m. and finish their classes at 12:45 p.m.
“There are some changes that could occur. We have some tweaking to do in regards to classes,” the superintendent revealed. “We’re going to continually revise some of those times — the start and end times — and they could differ by about 10 minutes depending on how many individuals opt out in the forthcoming survey.”
Buildings will be cleaned every day once students and staff vacate, and desks in classrooms cleaned after each class. Students would be instructed to sit in every other seat, skipping the seats of students in a prior class because of the industrial-grade cleaning supplies.
Parent Marna Salimena questioned the board about contact tracing and health screening procedures during the meeting’s public comment. Horchak replied that health screenings should be done by parents at home due to the district’s responsibility for students at bus stops and to avoid delaying start times at Clearview and Mantua.
The district is following regulations and recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the state Health Department on how to proceed if someone tests positive for COVID. The Gloucester County Health Department would be told of a positive test and contact tracing would be done to notify affected people.
Parent Chrissy Gehringer inquired at the meeting about students taking classes at Rowan College or leaving school early to go to work. Her child has courses at Rowan and Gehringer wants to avoid the student coming to school for only one or two classes then leaving for college courses. Horchak said the district has not yet explored the issue, but options would be explored to accommodate student schedules after consultations with the guidance department.
Sports would have normal practice times for teachers who are coaches to hold their one-hour office period at the end of the school day. It is not known if transportation would be available for students to get to practices.
Policies are under review for parents to be bound by the remote option all year. Horchak wants to get a policy approved for parents in August to have one transition in a school year in either of the two learning options.
Final plans are expected to be announced at an August board meeting or through district communications. The district is bound by state Department of Education mandates to publicize those plans 30 days before the first day of school on Sept. 8.
Details on district plans and the next board of education can be found on the district’s website at ClearviewRegional.edu.