Coronavirus Update March 11, 2020

Should the need arise, we have developed a plan to deliver remote instruction during a school closure.  Details of our approach will be available on our website on Thursday afternoon. In addition, we have a previously scheduled early dismissal on March 18.  The afternoon staff inservice time will be used to ensure our plan meets the remote learning requirement as defined by the State. In the interim, we will continue to encourage social distancing and utilize our flu cleaning protocols to disinfect our schools, buses, and playground equipment. District events will continue as scheduled unless you are notified otherwise.

 

We know you have many questions surrounding a potential closing, so we have put together an FAQ to help provide some answers. This information is also posted in long form on our district website.

 

The Hopewell Valley Schools have faced many challenges since our consolidation in 1894 and I am confident that through collaboration and support of one another, we will meet this most recent challenge. 

 

Sincerely,

 

Thomas A. Smith, Ed.D.

Superintendent of Schools

thomassmith@hvrsd.org

 

Two Important Preparation Items for Parents:

In the event of a long-term closure, students in grades 3-12 will be using Chromebooks.  Students in grades 3-5 will receive Chromebooks, as needed. Students in grades 6-12 are already in possession of Chromebooks through our 1-to-1 initiative.

Internet access: The district is working to assist families who may not have access to computers or internet service at home. If you or anyone you know lacks internet access, please contact your school principal immediately. Comcast /Xfinity and Verizon provide low-cost internet options. Now is also a good time to make sure you know how to access your own internet and how to add a device.

OnCourse access: OnCourse is our platform for digital learning. We encourage all parents to check and confirm they can access our OnCourse parent portal. Here is a resource from our website with instructions on how to access the OnCourse parent portal.  If you experience any problems trying to access your OnCourse account, please email us at Registrar@hvrsd.org or call 737-4000 ext. 2304.​

HVRSD COVID-19 Planning and Preparation FAQs

 

Who Makes the Decision to Close Schools Due to COVID-19?

Unlike a weather closing, which is made at the district level, any decision to close schools due to COVID-19 will be made by the representatives from the Department of Health, Department of Education, and the school district. 

 

If we close due to COVID-19, will the days count?

Under New Jersey Administrative Code school districts must be open for 180 school days.  Last week, the Commissioner of Education, working in conjunction with the Commissioner of Health and the Attorney General, issued guidance that if the Department of Health determined that a health-related closure was necessary, a school district could utilize provisions guided under the Home Instruction code to meet the 180 day requirements. 

 

How does remote learning work and will those days count toward the 180-day requirement?

On Thursday, March 5, school districts received guidance from the Department of Education regarding the statutory 180-day requirement.  Specifically, the Department noted that “online instruction” will be permitted to count towards the 180-day requirement when: 

  • it is part of a preparedness plan approved by the Executive County Superintendent; 
  • it meets the home instruction requirements of N.J.A.C. 6A:16-10.1 (6A); and 
  • closure was initiated pursuant to “a written directive from either the NJDOH or health officer of the jurisdiction”.
 

Should the decision be made to close our schools for an extended period of time, the school district will employ the utilization of virtual or remote learning days. Communication regarding virtual learning class schedules and online assignments/tutorials would then be sent to all students. Experiences will vary for K-5 and grades 6-12.  

 

How will remote instruction work?

Fortunately, with our E-Learning days, we have experience delivering remote instruction should the need arise.  We have a remote instruction plan that provides specific details; please know the district is well equipped to deliver instruction remotely to all students in grades 3–12 via Chromebooks.  Students in grades 3-5 will be given classroom Chromebooks during the closure, while students in grades 6-12 will utilize the Chromebooks previously issued to them. Students in grades K-2 will be provided work via packets.

 

How will we support our students with Special Education needs?

We will make every effort to meet the requirements for teacher-student contact time for students with disabilities via distance learning.  Student progress will be monitored and feedback provided online by special education teachers when appropriate, with the opportunity to communicate directly during scheduled times.  Upon returning to school, the CST team will determine if additional services are required.

 

Can I still access my school counselors and CST members if we close schools?

Understanding that the closure of schools does not eliminate the support our students need from counselors, our school counseling teams will be available (via email) during a closure and throughout the period of remote learning.  Online tools like Google Meet will be used when possible.

 

How will we support students who receive free/reduced lunch if we are closed?

The District has developed a plan with our food service provider Pomptonian to provide students who receive these services with meals.  Impacted families will be contacted directly in order to make arrangements for receipt of the meals.

 

What will happen with athletics and extracurricular activities in the event we close schools?

Unless otherwise directed by the Department of Education/Health and the NJSIAA, all athletic events and extracurricular activities (including field trips) will be canceled.

 

I have decided to keep my children home as a precaution; are the days excused?

Unless the Department of Health instructs us to close schools or the child has a doctor’s note stating he/she must stay home due to illness, any missed days are unexcused.

 

We have plans to go away over spring break, what do we do?

If you are planning to visit a country impacted by COVID-19 please notify your school PRIOR to your return. We will contact the Department of Health PRIOR to your return to review your situation. Regardless of what country you visit, be prepared for either a mandated or self-imposed 14 day quarantine.