Eastern Regional to discuss next phase in reopening plan

Next phase tentatively scheduled to start Monday, Nov. 9

The Eastern Camden County Regional School District Board of Education met for its monthly meeting Wednesday, Oct. 22 for a virtual meeting via YouTube. During the meeting, administration updated the board and community on the district’s plans moving forward to update it’s Return to School plan while also reviewing current guidelines regarding COVID-19 within Camden County.

Traditionally, the district is able to share an enrollment summary each month regarding the number of students currently attending school at Eastern Regional in an effort to track the flow of students in and out of the district.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, however, statistics showing how many students are attending in-person versus remote learning has become a topic of conversation across the county and state; therefore, Superintendent Robert Cloutier said during the meeting that the district will on a weekly basis be able to share that number with the community.

“Moving forward, we will on a weekly basis include the number of students who are on remote versus the number of students who are attending in-person,” said Cloutier. “As an update, the last two weeks has seen some pretty significant movement from [what was originally] the high 40’s attending remotely … we now have about 60 percent of our students attending 100 percent remotely.”

Cloutier said that 60 percent makes up approximately 1,100 students that are currently attending remote learning, a number he said the district did not anticipate being as high.

Later in the meeting, Cloutier made the board aware that Principal Robert Tull Jr. had an upcoming meeting with the Pandemic Response Team, a committee made up of parents and staff members, to discuss the next progression in the district’s reopening plan.

According to Cloutier, a draft was previously shared with those on the committee regarding potential future plans in the district’s reopening plan, which is currently scheduled to occur on Monday, Nov. 9.

“Overall our goal is to both continue to have a safe and healthy environment and bring back as many students as we possibly can,” Cloutier said. “There’s a few different variables that we’re looking at moving forward, such as the length of the school day, how we can improve the asynchronous day and also if we’re doing to continue to have such a high number of students at 100 percent remote learning … we have to consider other changes to the policy to look at those actually attending in-person and see if we can increase the number of days’ students can be here.”

Cloutier said he feels the district should continue to allow parents the ‘flexibility’ to make decisions regarding in-person or remote learning for their children, but that if the number of remote learners continues to remain high that the district should then seek possible ways to increase in-person learning for those that physically attend campus.

With the high number of remote learners, Cloutier said administration has noticed a pattern that mostly freshmen seem to attend in-person learning on campus while mostly seniors have opted for remote learning, and that utilizing such information could help the district formulate a revised return to school plan that accounts for their current schedules.

Lastly, Cloutier gave a presentation on the district’s coordination with the Camden County Department of Health as it’s related to COVID-19 cases within the student body or school building.

As most reports have come in after school hours, according to Cloutier, the district currently has an after-hours system for parents, students and staff members to reach out to when notified of a positive case or potential case. The school nurses are currently the district’s primary contacts regarding all cases.

To review the entire presentation, visit the Eastern Camden County Regional School District YouTube page.

In other news:

  • Athletics and Student Activities Director Steve Picot gave a presentation regarding the districts’ previous athletic year. While detailing the current state of NJSIAA athletics, Picot reminded the board that practices for all winter sports begin Dec. 3, with regular season competition beginning Dec. 21. Teams are capped at a maximum of 15 events for the current regular season.
  • The board’s next meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, Nov. 18 at 7:30 p.m.