Board of education begins discussion on back-to-school protocols

Complete information expected to be released in August.

With roughly seven weeks remaining until the next academic year begins in earnest, Haddonfield’s board of education discussed certain aspects of a full year return to in person instruction.

During the board’s July 16 public meeting, Superintendent Chuck Klaus revealed that the largest single issue to tackle would be how to approach COVID testing. 

“There are no virtual options for students. But, there are times when virtual learning can be put in place based on quarantining,” he noted. “There are a lot of regulations still being ironed out.” 

Klaus stated he met with county superintendents and the state’s department of health prior to the board meeting, and discussions centered around the proper method for mass testing of students. 

“The DOH (health department) is encouraging people to vaccinate,” he added. “We had a pharmacy call today, which said, ‘We will come to your school and set up in your gym.’ But as far as our protocols, we’re still waiting right now. Right now, it is the district’s decision to wear the masks.”

In response to the lone resident who reached out via the public comment portion of the meeting to ask about masking protocol in the elementary grades, board Vice President David Siedell offered that the district is currently collecting more data in order to facilitate proper protocol for each grade level prior to the start of school in September. 

The state had placed the burden of policy formation on school districts themselves, but Klaus and Siedell both mentioned the information should be ready to be released to district parents and guardians by early August. 

Last academic year, the district used several data points from which to make assessments on holding the in-class portions of hybrid learning or switching to all virtual instruction, including overall COVID infection numbers, positivity rate, rate of infection, and the CALI (COVID-19 Activity Level Index) score. 

During the course of the year, the middle school and high school were significantly more affected than elementary schools, and several movements from hybrid learning to all virtual instruction were necessary. 

Siedell added that the district would certainly set a CALI number they’re comfortable with to keep all operations running. If that number is breached, the administration would then have different protocols in place, based on grade level, building or the entire district as a whole to mitigate increases in positivity. 

In other news:

  • The board approved a contract for Michael Catalano as business administrator for the 2020-’21 academic year, as well as the 2021-’22 academic year, with an increase in salary of $3,000.
  • The nine-member body also passed a resolution to approve the contract between the district and LinkIt! Data analysis service for the upcoming academic year, at a cost of $49,950.
  • Per another resolution, the board approved a contract with Inspira Health Network Medical Group Inc. during the 2021-’22 school year for an amount not to exceed $12,000.