Princeton Public Schools district releases preliminary fall reopening plan

The proposed reopening plan for the Princeton Public Schools was sent to parents on Thursday. The 12-page PowerPoint document outlines proposed general guidelines for how the school district will operate for the 2020-21 academic year.

A hybrid model would be used. Families that prefer all-remote learning would be able to choose that option. District officials estimate that between 15 and 20 percent of students will not return to school and will be taught remotely.

District officials are working with the YMCA and other community agencies to provide childcare options for parents in the event that schools must be closed again because of the pandemic.

All after-school district activities and field trips through January would be canceled. The New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association, the governing body for high school sports in the state, has delayed a decision regarding fall sports until Sept. 15.

The district will follow CDC school re-opening guidelines, including social
distancing when possible, mask and shield wearing, the use of plexiglass dividers, daily assessments of both student and staff health, handwashing stations, and weekly deep-cleaning. Visitors to buildings will be limited and allowed by appointment only, and isolation areas will be provided in each school. School district nurses will be trained in contact tracing.

Tents will be installed at schools to provide outdoor instructional spaces and lunch facilities during September and October.

Under the proposed plan, preschool students, kindergarteners, and first graders would be in school five days a week, with a 3 p.m. dismissal. Officials said based on current enrollment figures, social distancing will be possible.

Students in grades two through five would be split into two groups under the plan. Half of the students would attend school in person on Mondays and Tuesdays, and the other half would attend school in person on Thursdays and Fridays. In-person school days would be dismissed at 1 p.m. Teachers would interact with remote learners after 1 p.m. Special education students in self-contained classes would attend school five days a week until 3 p.m. On Wednesdays, custodial staff would sanitize every building. Wednesdays would also be used for teacher planning and training. Wednesdays would also be used as a swing day when a holiday eliminates one of the other weekdays as an in-person day.

For grades six through 12, students would alternate weeks for in-person attendance to provide students with more continuity in instruction. Half of the students would attend school Mondays through Thursdays one week, and the other half would attend school the next week. Students would attend school remotely on alternate weeks. School days would be full-length days. District officials are exploring the possibility of offering outdoor eating and other ways for students to eat lunch while social distancing. Schools would be sanitized on Fridays. Teachers would use Fridays for teacher planning and training. Fridays would also be used as a swing day when a holiday eliminates one of the other weekdays as an in-person day. Instruction for special education students in full-time self-contained classes would be in-person.

Remote learning would include both synchronous and asynchronous instruction, supplemental reading, the assignment of independent tasks and projects, and small-group activities. Zoom meetings would include individual, group, and classroom sessions. Teachers will use Canvas, the district’s new learning-management system.

The plan will be sent to the Mercer County Superintendent and the
New Jersey Department of Education for approval by Aug. 3.


  1. A good start, nicely comprehensive. I wonder, though, if all children will be considered equal in their abilities and thus in their needs, because they are not. The plan so far suggests that all will be treated equally, but some need more attention than others, and the disabled student is not the only child in this category. What happens with the achievement gap? We really can’t afford to kick this can down the road.

  2. Is there any information available as to why the Princeton and the West Windsor Plainsboro plans are so different?

    1. The Wednesday and every Friday off thing does read a little lazy. Also maybe the older ones can go more remotely and the younger ones less… also research does not deem Kindergarten that necessary. Cut the kindergarten and let the 3rd and 4-5 graders go all day. Should this be remote-only? Will it be quality work and one-on-one teaching available during the times they are not in the building… what kind of experience are they going to be able to offer in the building.. is it really sensible for an elementary student to go into the building only 2 days a week? and for a 6th-8th grader to go say every other week?
      It is hard to say… but 3-4 graders need more support than 8th graders and maybe they should all go into he building all the time… it is not clear what is accomplished by this plan in terms of disease prevention say over just sending everyone back into the buildings…which are obviously not overcrowded

      1. Hi

        Our son is currently enrolled in the YWCA school, for the summer, 4 days in school, similar school environment and he is doing fine. From what we have heard no cases with the students or teachers.
        Our son has adjusted well to wearing the mask as the same with his friends.
        Part of the class is even outside which is also a great idea.

        With all due respect to teachers….
        I think a lot of this hype is brought on by the teachers who want the same benefit pay/ package but want to work from home.

        I would say if cases start to go up in general we should revisit the situation regarding more school from home. But until then the kids learning and socialization need to continue. It will not be the same on a computer.
        Bottom line, the kids need to go back to school.

  3. Princeton Public Schools should consider a more student centered approach to reopening.

    Princeton Day School and Princeton Friends School each seem to be able to get all the kids back, while also offering virtual options for those who need it.

    Princeton Public Schools may face an equity crisis with this reopening plan.

    Some families have the means to provide their children with full time in-person learning by home schooling or going private. There will be a wave of public school opt-out families. This plan exacerbates the gulf in opportunity for the students who have no choice.

    If Princeton Charter School follows Princeton Friends School in bring back all students, expect to see even greater demand and agitation for another charter school. Maybe all-charter K-8, leasing out PPS buildings to charters, is part of a solution.

    A consequence of this PPS reopening plan is encouragement of a constituency (the opt-out families) to defund or minimally fund PPS.

  4. My ER Doc brother’s advice: “Again sorry to be Debbie downer, but I’m actually being Debbie realist. There’s a reason me and every provider and medical organization is screaming DON’T OPEN THE DAMN SCHOOLS at the top of our lungs.” I’m leaning toward having my rising senior learn virtually for the first few months. Not willing for her to be part of the litmus test. ????‍♀️

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