MTSD Fall Reopening: Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Question Answer Why can we not open schools normally and bring all students back who want to come every day, full-time, in-person? Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, in order to provide the safest environment possible, schools must follow strict guidelines for social distancing and the wearing of masks. At this time, districts are required to open schools in some capacity. Montgomery Township School District does not have the classroom space or staff to spread out students in a physically distant manner (6 feet). If we are to strive for physical distancing it would, therefore, be impossible to safely bring all students back to school in-person daily. What does a Hybrid Instructional Model look like? In the Hybrid Model, our students will be divided into two cohorts alphabetically with one cohort being present in the school at a time. This will allow for appropriate social distancing in our classrooms and buildings. For more information regarding the Hybrid Model of Instruction, Click Here. What options as a parent/guardian do I have to choose for my child's education? Currently, the district will offer parents/guardians two options: 1) A Hybrid Model of Instruction with both in-person and virtual learning; 2) A fully virtual learning experience How are you addressing the social and emotional needs of students? We have trained Trauma-informed/Compassionate Care teams (composed of teachers, school counselors, administrators, and other certificated staff) in all 5 buildings. Each team will work with the staff in their respective buildings to infuse more social and emotional learning into the individual classrooms. Shouldn't we just have 100% virtual for everyone? Currently, districts are required by the state to offer some form of in-person instruction. The information from the New Jersey Department of Education continuously changes and we will adjust or alter plans as we receive updates. If we create two groups of students, can we bring in one group in the AM and the other group in the PM so that all students come to school daily? The idea of a daily AM/PM schedule for students was considered; however, it is problematic in that there would be significant issues with transportation. Additionally, such a schedule is likely to exacerbate differences in the timing of when students are in school, creating more challenges for parents at home. There is also a lot of start-up and close up time lost in all the daily movement. There would be a real challenge in sanitizing rooms and buses during the transition time in the middle of the day. Ultimately, the proposed hybrid plans provide more total time in school facilities than an AM/PM schedule would allow. Has the district considered live-streaming instruction for students at home? The district has evaluated the current reality of the district's technology and our online instructional platforms. The district believes the Hybrid Model of Instruction affords students the optimal blend of interaction with teachers, peers, and academic instruction to maximize the importance of feedback and interactions between teachers and students. Is choosing a 100% virtual instruction for parents/guardians a choice? Yes. How will the buildings/classrooms be cleaned? A revised cleaning and sanitation protocol was created. Our buildings have been sanitized and rigorous cleaning schedules have been created for the school year. This includes the cleaning and replacement of air filters for all of our buildings. Our maintenance department is verifying that all HVAC systems are appropriately functioning to allow for inside air to be refreshed with outside air. How will school buses be cleaned? School buses will be cleaned and sanitized between every route. Are clear schedules for teachers and students available for review? Yes. The district website has the schedule for each building posted with start and end times. What is the purpose of the K-6 virtual Friday? The K-6 virtual Friday will provide teachers the opportunity to schedule small-group virtual check-ins Have you considered letting the students learn outside? The district is looking into ways in which safe, outdoor learning may occur while meeting the requirements of the township fire code and other regulations. For COVID-19, what is considered exposure or close contact? CDC guidelines define "close contact" as being within six feet for 10 or more minutes, with or without a face covering. One benefit of cohorting in a hybrid model with reduced capacity is that we will be able to limit the number of individuals who require isolation if someone tests positive for COVID-19. What happens if a student or staff member that has been coming to school tests positive for COVID-19? If a student or staff member tests positive for COVID-19, the Montgomery Township Department of Health will notify the school district. The district will provide the Department of Health contact tracing team the necessary information regarding students and staff who were in contact with the infected individual. What would happen if the state-mandated another closing of schools? With the inclusion of our Hybrid Model of Instruction, the district is prepared to pivot to a fully virtual learning platform for all students if the state should require a mandated closing of schools. Will clubs and activities still run? At this time, after school activities will not be held in person. The buildings are looking into ways in which to offer virtual club/activities where possible. What will happen to school sports and related activities such as the marching band? Currently, athletics and our Marching Band will be following NJSIAA guidelines. Coaches and advisors will continue to communicate updates to their members. Does the district plan to use cohorting and move teachers from class to class instead of students? Yes. Where this is possible, the district would intend to implement these strategies. It is more possible at the lower grades and much less likely to be possible throughout middle school and high school. Will there be more live interaction with teachers than in the spring? Yes What happens in a classroom where some students' special needs prevent them from being able to wear a mask? These types of situations would be handled individually. Consideration would be made for other alternatives such as barriers, additional distancing, or face shields. Given the fact that there will be appropriate exceptions to the wearing of face masks, it needs to be understood that there may be classrooms where not every child is able to have a mask on. Exceptions to wearing face coverings will require medical documentation; a note from a parent will not suffice. How will student attendance take place for students participating virtually? The district is working on an attendance system for students participating virtually as, moving forward, the state requires reporting data on student participation in virtual learning. Will the district provide busing? Yes. Transportation to and from school must be provided for eligible students unless parents sign-off to waive transportation for the school year. Parents who do waive transportation are entitled to receive it again in the event that personal circumstances change during the year causing hardship. There is also a need to have emergency transportation available. Will the district be running child care programs? The district is exploring options and will keep families informed of any arrangements. How will the wearing of masks be enforced? Each building is working to develop procedures and protocols to address mask-wearing. All students will be required to wear a mask at all times. If your child has a medically documented condition, a physician’s note will be required before an exemption to this requirement can be made. We encourage you to assist your child in building up their endurance for wearing a mask prior to the start of school. For more information and ideas, please view Helping Your Child Wear a Mask. We will make every effort to provide students with opportunities for socially distanced mask breaks. What should I do if we are traveling outside of NJ? Please be cognizant of your travel plans during the summer and whether or not you are traveling to an area that will require your child to quarantine for 2 weeks upon return. If you travel to a location that requires quarantine when you return, your children will not be able to start school (in person) until the quarantine period has ended. They will, however, be able to fully participate in remote learning. In the very near future, I will be communicating procedures with you for how you may elect the fully online option. Will you be testing staff and students regularly for COVID-19? We will follow the medical guidance we receive on this issue. Currently, we are not being advised to attempt to test staff and students. How will schools maintain social distancing in the halls? The goal is to strive for social distancing as much as possible. It is understood that being 6 feet apart from everyone else for every second of the school day is not possible, which is why everyone needs to wear a mask. How will we be able to differentiate COVID symptoms from other symptoms? School nurses will evaluate students and send them home as appropriate. Extra efforts (likely in the form of testing) may be necessary to determine the cause of an individual's symptoms. Students and parents will be required to follow a strict protocol for return to school whenever the student is ill. What are parents who work supposed to do on the days their kids have to stay home? The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) requires certain employers to provide employees with paid sick leave or expanded family and medical leave for specified reasons related to COVID-19. Parents are encouraged to speak with their employers now about the need for flexible working arrangements and/or develop other childcare arrangements that can flex to anticipated needs to go in and out of distance learning. Somerset County provides resources for identifying quality child care providers. Will staff be required to wear masks at all times when interacting with students? Yes. How will IEP assessments be carried out? In-person special education assessments will resume in September. Please contact your child's case manager if your child is awaiting evaluation to schedule a time. Will devices be offered to families that need them for distance learning? Yes, Chromebooks will be made available to students who need them. Will students have to take state standardized assessments? We do not yet have that information and will communicate with the community as we are made aware. As of right now, the federal government has not waived state testing requirements.
Last Modified on December 22, 2020