Gloucester Township schools offer learning options for fall

District will use hybrid model while also offering 100-percent remote option

MATTHEW SHINKLE/The Sun: Gloucester Township Public Schools presented its return to school plan during its board of education meeting early last week. According to the plan, the district is currently moving forward with a hybrid plan of remote learning and in-person instruction.

Administrators of Gloucester Township Public Schools last week presented their current plan to resume in-person instruction this fall during a virtual board of education meeting.

According to the presentation by Assistant Superintendent for Instruction Tim Trow, the district plans to offer a hybrid model of instruction, with each grade population split into two groups. Half of the grade will attend school for in-person instruction on Monday and Tuesday, while the other half will learn remotely. The groups will switch places for Wednesday and Thursday; Friday will be a remote learning day for all district students..

The district had presented two plans to families earlier in the month:  one being the All in Plan, where students would attend school for most, if not all, days of the week. Meanwhile, the Space First Plan  would have split instruction between two days of in-person learning and three days of remote learning.

Trow said during the presentation that parent and teacher feedback helped determine the district’s latest plans, as results from a recent survey showed 41.3 percent of parents preferred the Space First Plan, while 35.4 percent of parents favored the All in Plan.  Meanwhile, 23.3 percent of parents indicated that they would choose all-remote learning for their kids, if possible.

Staff members in the district overwhelmingly supported the Space First Plan as well, with 70.7 percent in favor, compared with 29.3 percent for the All in Plan.

Full remote learning is available, but returning students have criteria they must meet to be eligible for such an option. According to the presentation, full remote learning will be available for “students at higher risk for severe illness or students whose parents/guardians elect this option.” But third through eighth grade students will not be able to have 100-percent remote learning if they received a “No Grade” during the final marking period of the last school year.

Parents had until Aug. 2 to complete a second survey informing the district of their instruction choice. The district will use information from that survey to determine what the 2020-’21 school year — scheduled  to begin Sept. 8 — will look like.

The district indicated that while students are in their respective school buildings, it expects to socially distance them by 6 feet within the classroom. Students will be required to wear a mask or face covering at all times, except when seated in their assigned seat, a policy recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Students entering buildings will receive a temperature check and will not be allowed entry if one of them or a staff member has an elevated temperature or exhibits symptoms of COVID-19. According to Superintendent John Bilodeau, the district will work closely with the Camden County Department of Health in the event cases arise during the school year.

Currently all in-person, extracurricular activities and athletics are canceled until further notice, according to the meeting presentation. The same applies to building use by community groups that could create possible cross-contamination.

The board’s meeting was capped at a maximum of 100 members due to technological difficulties, according to Bilodeau, something he said  the district is working to correct moving forward. The School Reopening Presentation can be viewed on the district’s website at www.gloucestertownshipschools.org, under the school board and 2020-’21 Agenda & Minutes tabs.

Also viewable is the live presentation as it was discussed by district administration, as well as the portion of the session where the district answered questions from approximately 25 parents. The district also received questions from about 60 staff members that were sent to administrators to be answered directly to those who asked the questions.