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Moorestown’s board of education addresses virtual learning

New president, vice president selected at reorganization meeting.

CHRISTINE HARKINSON/The Sun: The Moorestown board of education addressed several concerns regarding COVID and virtual learning at its Jan. 4 reorganization meeting.

Moorestown Township’s Board of Education selected Maurice Weeks as its new president and Dr. Mark Snyder as its new vice president at its Jan. 4 reorganization meeting.

“I feel like we have one of the most talented boards I’ve ever seen,” Weeks said. “And I think we have a lot of potential and I’m really looking forward to working with you all to continue to improve Moorestown’s schools and keep things moving in the right direction in the service of our students.”

Before Weeks and Snyder were sworn in, Board Secretary James Heiser performed that service for new members Melissa Arcaro Burns, Cheryl Makopoulos and Jill Fallows Macaluso.

Moorestown resident Claudine Morano then asked for the consideration of virtual meetings during public comments.

“Just being your first organizational meeting, I think you’ve heard a great deal from the community since probably the summer, (and) that there’s a desire to have these meetings virtually so that there can be greater participation,” she said.

Marano added that with parents and kids in home quarantine, meetings should be held in a hybrid model. Superintendent Michael Volpe then addressed concerns regarding the potential closing of schools because of COVID.

“The state has made it very clear that it would like to have in person learning for as much as possible for our students, and there are two reasons that a superintendent would talk to the board about closing schools for remote instruction,” Volpe explained.

“Those specific two reasons are that the rate of in school transmission is high enough and the board of health recommends shutting down. I know there’s numbers out there on the news and things in the community, but it’s about the in-school transmission and coordination with the board of health.”

Volpe also expressed concern about teachers who are positive for COVID being mandated to quarantine, and a lack of substitutes to replace them. He added that the township is following the process put forth by New Jersey for schools to remain open.

“If we do have to close schools, we have a board-approved plan,” he noted. “I believe it was approved in September or October, as to what virtual instruction looks like. Right now, we only have virtual instruction for students who have to quarantine.”

“My teachers need to be able to teach those students as well as the students in front of them,” Volpe added, ‘‘and unfortunately, people can’t pick and choose along with our state-approved and board-approved plan that we have right there.”

The superintendent encouraged residents interested in helping the community to consider being substitute teachers.

“If I’ve looked at the substitute roles over the past three years, it has gone down and down and down, and if we have more substitutes, the more likely we are to cover everything that we need to do,” he explained.

Closing the meeting, resident Fallows Macaluso asked Volpe what parents should be prepared for in case schools close.

“I’m anticipating that we are in good shape right now, in good shape to be open,” Volpe responded. “We are having difficulty dealing with everything.  Everyone’s doing a great job and we’re in great shape, but I will try to alert the community as well as the board and the board leadership as soon as I know everything.”

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