The Princeton Charter School is the latest school to announce that it will begin the academic year with all students learning remotely. Students will learn remotely for September and October. School officials will continue to evaluate plans as the constantly-changing situation evolves.
“We will monitor the external situation to understand how the safety protocols are working and will review all the epidemiological data,” said Maryellen McQuade, chair of the board at the Princeton Charter School.
McQuade said working to ensure the health and wellness of the community was starting to take away so much focus on the charter school’s commitment to academic standards, that too much was being sacrificed when it comes to academic excellence.
“It gets to the point where you say, do I want my teachers focused on whether we are meeting all the health and safely standards or on delivering the curriculum?” McQuade said.
“We realize this is really hard for parents, and we recognize that children need interaction, especially small children,” McQuade said. “We are looking at creative things we can do to foster that. We also are looking at ways to serve parents who need to go back to work.”
The charter school has changed its online learning platform and hired a consultant over the summer to help teachers enhance virtual instruction and adapt the curriculum to a remote learning environment. School officials are looking at creative ways to create interactions for students, such as offering one-on-one sessions with teachers and opening the school gym for students who need access if their parents must go back to work.
In Hamilton, the 11th largest school district in the state, the school board held an emergency meeting on Saturday and voted to start the school year remotely. The district plans to shift to a hybrid learning model on Oct. 12.
Lawrence officials announced last week that the district would begin the year with remote-only learning. South Brunswick and Trenton have also chosen to start the school year with remote-learning.
“Our strategies for reopening always focused on our primary goals; the safety of our students, staff, and the Trenton community while providing a high-quality education for all students,” Trenton Interim Superintendent Ronald Lee told parents in a letter about the decision to begin the new academic year remotely. District officials are working to make sure every student has a device, he said.
Some school districts are re-evaluating their plans after Gov. Phil Murphy announced last week that school districts that aren’t prepared to open buildings safely can offer remote-only learning in the fall. The following area schools announced earlier this summer that they will offer hybrid learning models: the Princeton Public Schools, the Hopewell Valley Regional Schools, the Ewing Public Schools, the Cranbury Public Schools, the Montgomery Public Schools, the West Windsor Public Schools, the East Windsor Regional School District, and the Robbinsville School District. Parents can still choose a remote-only option in school districts in New Jersey that offer in-person instruction.
The school board for the Princeton Public Schools will hold a Zoom meeting Tuesday night at 7:30 p.m. to approve the district’s reopening plan. Virtual community meetings will then be held on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.