Montgomery Township Schools to Open Online Only in September on Account of COVID
By Barbara A. Preston | August 20, 2020
The Montgomery Township School District emailed parents on Wednesday to announce the district will open in September with online-learning only. The district leadership team cited "constantly changing guidance from the state, the late delivery of and back-ordered PPE/cleaning supplies, and staffing concerns," as the reason for the decision.
It is unclear exactly when the decision was made, but there was a closed-school board meeting on Monday, August 17. The superintendent was not available for comment at the writing of this article. The Montgomery News obtained a copy of the letter from a parent. Another parent also posted it on Facebook.
The district had been planning to give parents the option of having students either return to school in-person in a hybrid-model combined with some online learning. The other option was virtual learning only.
The letter to parents stated: "Due to the constantly changing guidance from the state, the late delivery of and back-ordered PPE/cleaning supplies, and staffing concerns, our district leadership team, which is comprised of teachers, association leaders, the superintendent, administrators, and the board of education, voted unanimously to start the school year in a full virtual model."
"This means that all students will be instructed virtually beginning on the first day of school, September 8," the letter added.
"We will re-evaluate our status on September 30, with the goal of beginning the in-person instruction phase-in starting on Monday, October 12."
Montgomery Township School Board to Elect New President at Next Board Meeting
The Montgomery School Board will elect a new president at its meeting on Tuesday, August 25, at 7:30 pm, according board Vice President Phyllis Bursh.
Former President Joanne Tonkin, who had had a 29-year career as an administrator for the Montgomery School District, resigned — effective immediately — on August 10 after serving seven months as president of the Board of Education.
Tonkin lives in Belle Mead and is a former school district employee who served as director of pupil services for many years. She said she resigned for "personal reasons."
Princeton Public Schools opening remotely this fall too
The Princeton school district will begin the school year with an all-remote opening as well. The district announced on its website that classes will start virtually on September 14.
Princeton schools had made its announcement on the Web on Tuesday, August 18. No in-person classes will be offered until October, when the district hopes to begin a phased-in plan to bring students back to school buildings in person. The district will also provide a fully remote option for all students who select that plan. The hybrid option (a combination of remote and in-person learning) is scheduled to start on October 12 for elementary school students and October 19 for middle and high school students.
The district also provided an opportunity for parents to ask questions and find out more details via a ZOOM meeting on Wednesday, August 19 with its Interim Superintendent Barry Galasso.
The new plans were announced at the Board of Education meeting on Tuesday night, which attracted more than 400 people. Also, Q&A session had been scheduled for Wednesday, August 19.
The Montgomery School district letter to parents appears below
"On August 12, Governor Murphy released an executive order that provided an update on the minimum safety standards that school districts must be able to meet in order to open for in-person instruction. The primary message of this new executive order was for districts to open for in-person instruction by meeting all of the minimum required safety standards. Additionally, on August 14, for the first time, the NJ Department of Health released safety guidelines for the opening of schools.
"The safety of our students and staff is of primary importance over all other decisions. Our district administration and staff have been working incredibly hard to devise an exceptional instructional program for our students regardless of the instructional model (hybrid in-person or 100 percent virtual) chosen.
Due to the constantly changing guidance from the state, the late delivery of and back-ordered PPE/cleaning supplies, and staffing concerns, our district leadership team, which is comprised of teachers, association leaders, the Superintendent, administrators and the Board of Education Vice President, voted unanimously to start the school year in a full virtual model. This means that all students will be instructed virtually beginning on the first day of school, September 8. School principals will be sending out detailed information for each building.
"We will re-evaluate our status on September 30, with the goal of beginning the in-person instruction phase-in starting on Monday, October 12.
"We know the difficulties this will place on many of our families, and we do believe that nothing is a replacement for in-person instruction. However, we will not compromise the health and safety of our school community. The district is committed to ensuring the following:
All students receive an engaging educational experience aligned with state standards and the district curriculum
Safety guidelines are all met allowing us to create the safest environment possible for in-person learning
Frequent communication takes place with parents, staff, and all community members
"This letter serves as an announcement of our virtual start to the school year. Please anticipate further communication from our curriculum director regarding virtual learning, from building principals regarding school specific information and from the district. As always, quality instruction and the social emotional well-being of our students is our top priority. Sincerely, District Leadership Team."