As a Matter of Fact!

SOMSD Newsletter: Vol. 3, Issue 9 | 2.25.22

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Superintendent's Message

Hello South Orange & Maplewood School District Community,


As we move towards the end of Black History Month I’d like to recognize our Teachers, School Leaders for their important work in ensuring that our students not only learn of the contribution of notable African Americans throughout history during the month of February, but that our students receive an education where our core beliefs of access, equity, and inclusion are woven throughout our curriculum, teaching and learning. Where a month to highlight a single culture is just that…a highlight of emphasis that serves as a companion to what should be a rich education where all of our students see themselves represented in their literature and history consistently. Where our students learn and build authentic empathy and appreciation for other races, ethnicities and cultures. This is and should be our intention, not happenstance.


We also fully acknowledge that we are of course far from perfect or done with this work. That is why we have continued to invest heavily in this important topic of access and equity, including professional development in the areas of restorative practices/restorative justice, anti-racist & anti-bias education…and programs like Equal Opportunity Schools, Cougar Academy, etc., to name a few.


I’d like to also note the work of the C&I department in ensuring that our District is not only compliant with the very important Amistad Commission’s curricular recommendations, but has moved past a goal of simple compliance towards one of pragmatic relevance. Be safe and well.


Educationally yours,


Dr. Ronald G. Taylor

CHS: MAC Scholars Black History Month

Over the course of February, the members of the CHS MAC Scholars created daily Black History Month videos which highlighted the contributions and accomplishments of African-Americans and shared them with the CHS community. The full suite of videos can be found here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCh8TXfyUTtJDnbz-y1KnObQ
Black History Month JEAN BASQUIAT
Return to School News & Updates

All updates and resources regarding the District's return to in-person instruction.

SOMSD Institutes Outdoor Only "Mask Option" For School District Community


On February 7, Governor Phil Murphy announced that the school mask mandate will no longer be in effect statewide as of March 7. In that same announcement, the governor also noted that local school districts can make determinations as to whether they should continue with mask mandates.


The good news is that Essex County is currently at a moderate CALI (COVID Activity Level Index) score and there has been a dramatic decline in COVID-19 transmission in New Jersey and in our local community. In addition, we are proud of the vaccination rates in our school community. There is a high vaccination rate among our teachers and staff population (over 90%+) as well as our student population overall (ages 5 - 11, over 75%+ have received their 1st shots; ages 12 - 18, 90%+).


However, even in light of the trend we are seeing, in discussion with our local health departments and school nurses, our District is making the very thoughtful decision to continue with our ‘indoor school mask’ mandate. One of the key factors in our determination is that we are still awaiting guidance from state health and education officials concerning how to prevent disease transmission and implement contact tracing and quarantining if the indoor mask mandate is lifted.


We understand that this may be disappointing to some, however, we are instead choosing to implement a cautious roll-back of our masking mandate as well as some mitigation strategies. Read more.

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Enrollment for the 2022-23 SOMSD school year for NEW students begins today, February 22 (pay attention to enrollment deadlines by grade levels). Students CURRENTLY enrolled in and attending a District school/program (Prek-11) are not required to re-enroll for the 2022-223SY.


Please note for the 2022-23 SY there will no longer be in-person appointments. After completing the online application, families will need to drop off the supportive documents (photocopies) listed on the Streamlined Registration Checklist in an enclosed envelope (with the student’s name, enrolling grade, enrolling year, and parental information on the front), in the dropbox, located at the Board of Education bldg. by the deadlines stated below:


  1. Kindergarten Enrollment: Tuesday, February 22 - Friday, March 11

  2. Columbia High School: Monday, March 14 - Friday, March 18

  3. Preschool Registration: Monday, March 21 -Friday, April 8

  4. General Enrollment for ALL grades (K-12): Will begin on Monday, May 23


Please note the following:

  • Please note, the online registration application is now open. While families are able to complete their online application at any time, the enrollment process is not considered complete until all necessary documents are provided. In addition, your child’s application will not be reviewed until their registration window opens (i.e. only Kindergarten registrations will be processed between 2/22 - 3/11, only CHS will be processed during 3/14 - 3/18, etc.,).

  • Applicants (new students) interested in enrolling for the 2022-23 SY must complete and submit the corresponding application. A 2021-22 application cannot be used to enroll for September 2022.

  • Students who were previously withdrawn (disenrolled) from the District, are considered new students and must be re-register in accordance with the registration dates listed above.

  • Students who wish to attend school for the current school year (2021-2022), must complete the 2021-22 SY application and follow the Two-Step enrollment process listed on the website.


Preschool Program:

  • Currently enrolled Preschool students who will be advancing to kindergarten DO NOT need to re-register.
  • ONLY NEW preschool registrants will need to complete the online registration when it opens on March 21, 2022. Note that since preschool seating is extremely limited; only families who have completed the enrollment process by the preschool registration deadline will participate in the preschool lottery, which determines placement consideration.
  • The Preschool department manages all lottery and placement decisions (not the Registration department); any additional questions and information should be directed to the Preschool Education department: https://bit.ly/3tsqjll


South Orange & Maplewood School District

2022-23 & 2023-24 Academic School Year Calendars

Download the 2022-23 & 2023-24 Academic School Year Calendars

BOE Approves 2022-23 & 2023-24 Academic School Year Calendars

The next two year's academic calendars are now available for download. SOMSD community is encouraged to review important dates.


SOMSD'S 2022-23 & 2023-24 academic school calendars were approved by the Board of Education at its February 24th meeting. This year the BOE approved the school year calendars for the next two academic school years. Thereby allowing staff and families to plan accordingly for upcoming academic school years.

REMINDER: Sign-Up to Receive Text Message Updates & Reminder to Update Contact Information in School Messenger

Opt-In For Text Messages

In order to participate in the text messaging service, you must indicate your willingness to receive text messages to your phone, even if you received text messages this year. You must do this whether you have a child in the school system or belong to a community organization that wants to keep up-to-date with our alerts.


To learn more about signing up for SMS text messaging visit: website: https://www.somsd.k12.nj.us/headlines/district-news/2019/12/16/sms-text-message-communications-from-the-district/


REMINDER! Update Contact Information for All Parties Via School Messenger:

In order to communicate with you through School Messenger, it is important that we have the most up-to-date contact information available for all parties.

Activities Around SOMSD!

Congratulations to the 2021-22 CHS Girls Fencing Team!

Congratulations to the 2021-22 CHS Girls Fencing Team on a stellar season.


  • The team made it to the 2022 NJSIAA Fencing State Championship where they competed against the Montgomery team on Wed., February 23 at Morris Plains High School. The team won silver in the NJSIAA State Championships, losing the championship meet to gold-medal winner Montgomery. The CHS team is the #2 team in the state out of a field of 72 teams across NJ. We commend and applaud them for their hard work and for a spectacular season!

  • On Sun., February 13, Lindsey Minor, a junior at Columbia High School, competed in the 2022 Individual State Fencing Championships. Among thirty-eight of the top high school girl épée fencers from around New Jersey, Minor won third place at the 2022 NJSIAA State Individual Fencing Champions. (Photo Credit - Village Green): From left to right, Coach Daryl White, Lindsey Minor, Coach Arthur “Doc” Paulina, and Asst. Coach Frank Mustilli)
Coach Daryl White, Lindsey Minor, Coach Arthur “Doc” Paulina, and Asst. Coach Frank Mustilli

National Pizza Day! School Celebrations

Wednesday, February 9 was #NationalPizzaDay. In recognition of the hard work and commitment of our teachers and staff to our students, the District worked with the Achieve Foundation and school PTAs/HSAs to sponsor staff pizza celebrations at each of our schools. School administrators coordinated/scheduled celebrations during the month of February. Thanks once again to our partners Achieve Foundation of South Orange and Maplewood and our school PTAs/HSAs for helping to make this happen.

Covid-19 Testing & County Megasite Testing/Vaccination Sites in Livingston, Newark & West Orange

We encourage our SOMSD community to take advantage of testing opportunities available at local Megasite locations. For more information on Essex County site visit: https://essexcountynj.org/covid-19-vaccine-locations/
Covid-19 SOMSD Dashboard

It is the responsibility of the staff member who tests COVID-19 positive, or the parent of the student who tests COVID-19 positive to notify the principal who notifies the superintendent.

SOMSD Upcoming Events

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