Voorhees Township reveals school reopening plans for fall

Hybrid model also offers parents the option of remote-only learning

Voorhees Township Public Schools revealed plans for reopening this fall during a virtual board of education meeting late last week.

Along with Superintendent David Gentile, the district presented plans that must be submitted to the state Department of Education no fewer than 30 days prior to the start of school.

“The plan will not be voted upon tonight (by the board of education), and that will allow additional time for everyone to continue to provide additional thoughts as new guidance comes out,” Gentile said at the top of the meeting.

The current plan is to operate under a hybrid model, utilizing both in-person instruction and remote learning during the week. Parents will be able to choose which option they feel most comfortable with.

“Parents may select a full-remote, 100-percent virtual learning option, or they may select a hybrid learning schedule for their children,” Gentile explained. “We ask that parents agree to a marking period commitment, although requests to change schedules for the end of a full marking period will always be considered and will be addressed on a case-by-case basis.”

Students attending in-person classes will be divided into two groups, with one group attending school for in-person instruction on Monday and Tuesday and the other  Thursday and Friday. Wednesday will be a remote-only learning day for all students.

The district will provide all students with a district iPad to use at home for virtual instruction. Crews will clean school buildings every Wednesday to prepare for the next group of students attending in person.

“The district will use Wednesdays as a cleaning day,” said Gentile. “We will leverage the opportunity to have an unoccupied building for the transition of students and implement cleaning. Instructional staff will work from home and in the afternoons, we will use that time to provide required training and additional professional development.”

According to plans, students will remain in the classroom whenever possible, with staff going to students when it is feasible. The increased amount of classroom time for students during the day will result in more frequent “comfort breaks” so students can  move around and not sit at their desk all day, Gentile noted.

Face coverings will be required for all staff and students, but teachers will be able to grant “safety breaks” when social distancing can be maintained. Medical exceptions will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis, according to the superintendent.

Gentile will be in regular contact with the Camden County Department of Health regarding potential positive COVID-19 tests during the school year. The district will work with the county to verify all reported information before starting contract tracing or case investigation. Students who must self-isolate or quarantine due to COVID will do remote learning until they can return to their hybrid schedule.

The district meeting is viewable on the schools’ website under the Site Shortcuts part of the main page, as are the district’s PowerPoint presentation and written plan.