Re-opening Update

Re-opening Update
Posted on 07/24/2020
Re-opening Update

Dear Ramapo Indian Hills Community,

I hope this letter finds your family well and enjoying this summer of a different kind. At the school, we have not slowed down much as we have been developing the plans for safely re-opening our schools in September. As you know, guidelines change on a daily basis so the process has been difficult, to say the least. Our original goal was to get all of our students back into our high schools full time. Unfortunately, the cleaning requirements following lunches, tremendous hall congestion, and the need for physical distancing in our classrooms  have led us to recommend a hybrid model for the first six weeks of school (Phase 1- Sept 8-Oct 23.)   The safety, security, and wellness of our students and staff remain the highest priority. With fewer students in the buildings allowing for additional physical distancing, the use of face coverings, and increased cleaning and sanitizing protocols,  we feel assured risk mitigation will be improved.   Our committees have involved administrators, teachers, supervisors, parents, health professionals, safety and security specialists, and facility personnel.  The re-opening plan was originally due to our County Office on July 27 but is on hold as we await a “checklist” from the NJDOE with a new expected due date of July 31. As we wait for additional guidance, all planning is of course tentative.  Additionally, the governor announced on July 20 that parents in New Jersey now have the option of continuing remote instruction in the fall and not returning to in-person learning.

Preliminary Plan – Hybrid Approach

Our students currently follow an A/B schedule with many electives taking place on either the A day or the B day   We believe a hybrid approach where half of the students report to school and half of the students remain home on a two-day rotation (an A and B day) will best meet our needs during Phase 1 of reopening. For example, students in Group 1 would be in school all day on Monday and Tuesday, remote on Wednesday and Thursday, and then in school all day on Friday and Monday. The entire six weeks will be laid out on a calendar for parents and students in both groups. The students will follow the District’s regular (7:40 AM to 2:39 PM) 9-period instructional day.  

In this hybrid approach, it is expected that all students attend their classes and work through the curriculum regardless of their location (in-class and at home).  All students will work toward the same daily instructional objectives and are expected to participate in all activities planned and enacted by the classroom teacher.  Students who are attending class from home are expected to engage with their classroom teacher and fellow classmates, as determined by the teacher, using video conferencing tools (Zoom) and/or the wide array of digital tools and services provided by the District.  Teaching and learning in this environment can happen in a synchronous or asynchronous manner.  Of course, many of the details are still being reviewed including the split of the two groups. As soon as information is available, we will communicate it out to you.  

Please understand that while we await guidance from Governor Murphy and the NJ Department of Education, our committees continue to work on solutions committed to the health, safety, and well-being of our students and staff. This is our highest priority. While we all know it is disappointing we cannot get all students back to school every day during Phase 1, none of us have lost sight of that as our goal. Please be patient as we take the necessary “step approach” for Phase I to ensure our children and staff have the most controlled and safest approach before sending all students back.  

Since all parents have a choice as to how their child(ren) will be educated when returning in September, a  two question multiple choice survey has been created so we have a sense of the comfort level and preferences of parents. 

Thank you for your patience during this process.  As mentioned earlier, guidelines change rapidly and while a tremendous amount of time has been spent planning for a safe re-opening, it will not surprise any of us, if the directives from the State change once again. We will be in touch as soon as we have additional information.

Best regards,

Beverly MacKay

Superintendent of Schools