HomeVoorhees NewsVoorhees district eyes potential changes to school plan

Voorhees district eyes potential changes to school plan

Education board discusses updates at recent board meeting

The Voorhees Township Public Schools Board of Education had its monthly meeting on Oct. 28 and focused on the next phase in the school reopening plan.

The discussion included possibly lengthening the school day and implementing more in-person learning days.

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At the board’s previous meeting, teachers spoke during public comment to request additional help from the district regarding health and safety measures and current operations as they pertain to time with students and for professional development.

Before the recent meeting, Superintendent David Gentile and several board members toured schools within the district and sat in on classes to better understand how the school day goes for teachers in Voorhees Township.

Students who opted for the district’ hybrid plan attend school for two half-days. But numerous residents spoke during the meeting’s public comment to request the district move to either a full-day schedule for the two days’ students are in person, or that more days be made available for in-person learning.

Gentile responded that the district is now evaluating numerous options for the second phase of reopening that he expects would take place during the second marking period. In an interview with The Sun following the meeting, Gentile said the district is preparing to send out a parent survey that will provide information on where parents stand on hybrid versus remote learning moving forward.

“That survey is very simple and will just help us gauge the choice for the next marking period between remote or hybrid learning,” the superintendent said. “But using that information will allow us to be able to finalize the next phase.”

While some residents requested the current half-day schedule, Gentile said feedback from many teachers has shown that teachers use the time following the in-person portion of hybrid learning to plan lessons, seek professional development and work with others on preparing for the next day. Those factors could make it difficult to eliminate the half-day schedule.

“When the half-day schedule was originally introduced in the summer, it was believed that it would be temporary, and there were several reasons as to why we were looking to that at that time,” Gentile explained. “What we’ve found now, since the start of the school year, is how much our teachers are really depending on that time to plan, work with colleagues and be prepared for their students in this new hybrid model.”

Gentile added that the district is aware of parent requests for additional in-person learning and more time for core curriculum, as well as teacher concerns, and that striking a balance of both is something the administration is working toward.

“We have to take both sides’ needs and come up with a plan that works for everybody,” he acknowledged. “I would say that implementing something new would come at the beginning of the next marking period.”

The district plans to have specific information ready for the board’s next meeting on Wednesday, Nov. 23, at 7:30 p.m. in the administration building.

Also during the Oct. 28 session, Scott Falk was sworn in as a board member after receiving six yes votes last week. He assumes the seat of Barbara Dunleavy following her resignation in August.

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