The Cherry Hill Public School District announced at its Feb. 22 board meeting that beginning March 7, mask-wearing will be optional including at Barclay Early Childhood Center except in cases of very high COVID transmission levels.
The decision comes after Gov. Phil Murphy announced that the state-wide mask mandate for schools and child-care settings would also be lifted on March 7. While masks will be optional in school, they will still be required on school buses, per the CDC’s 2021 recommendation.
Assistant Superintendent Dr. Kwame Morton noted that mask-wearing may be required on field trips, depending on venue policies, and is still mandated for those emerging from quarantine.
In response to board member Kimberly Friddell’s question about whether contact tracing would continue, Assistant Superintendent LaCoyya Weathington said the district would be unable to do tracing because it would be too difficult to keep track of who is unmasked, masked, vaccinated or unvaccinated while determining a close contact.
“Once we move forward with this practice then we will get together with the nurses to talk about what (contact tracing) looks like from a practical perspective,” Weathington said.
The board also announced that the Middle School Redistricting Committee has formally recommended option two, which assigns a middle school based on the elementary- and middle-school locations, with the exception of Knight students who would attend Carusi.
Though the committee recommendation was made, there is still time to tweak and make improvements to the actual middle-school plan for the 2023-2024 school year. The board also confirmed that students currently attending middle school will be able to stay at their schools until they graduate.
The Middle Level Scheduling Committee, which has been working in the past few years to revise schedules, recommended the middle schools consider a new schedule with a 35-minute advisory for music, SEL, Intervention and Enrichment, Related Services and interdisciplinary projects); four rotating subjects with three periods of 52 minutes, one period of 78 minutes for math, science, English/Language Arts and Humanities; 52 minutes of world language four days a cycle; Physical Education/Exploratory (art, STEM, music, computer science, communications) two days each cycle for 52 minutes; and a 26-minute lunch.
Special-education considerations include program consistency so more students can attend their home school and amendments to individualized education plans that reflect the new minutes in the schedule.
In other news:
- Cherry Hill’s African American Civic Association recognized the winners of its essay contest on the impact of the health-care system on Black Americans and famous African Americans in the field.
- Class representatives from Cherry Hill East and West reported athletic achievements, including East junior Maya Hemo winning the state championship at the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association Girls Wrestling Championship. She is the second wrestler in East history to achieve the title.
- The board announced a town hall in upcoming weeks on later school start times as well as a thought exchange leading up to an announcement of the direction the district will take in April.
The next board of education meeting will be held March 8 at 6:30 p.m., at the Malberg Administration building.