Special Edition: Phase 4/5 Updates

SOMSD Newsletter "As a Matter of Fact" | April 23, 2021

Superintendent's Message

Dear South Orange & Maplewood School District Community,

Phase 4 of our phased-in reopening plan will continue as scheduled beginning on Monday, April 26. We will be welcoming back to schools our 8th and 12th-grade hybrid students and our PreK - 2 students (as well as our Special Services self-contained, ELL) will begin attending school in combined/consolidated cohorts, five days a week. In addition, earlier this week, Principal Sanchez shared with the CHS community that they were able to consolidate three cohorts into two, so starting on Monday, April 26, the high school will be operating a new cohort schedule guaranteeing each cohort will be in each week!

During our Monday, BOE meeting we shared additional updates regarding Phase 4 & 5 reopening. I am sharing a video update and providing additional information regarding details of our families’ hybrid selection; reopening phase-in; ventilation upgrades; partition usage to assist with social distancing; YMCA childcare; and a breakdown of the demographics of those families who selected hybrid vs. virtual selection.

Some key highlights of the presentation include:

  • Close to 70% of families have selected Hybrid, with elementary choosing hybrid at a higher percentage: PreK 74%; Elementary 75%; Middle Schools 66%; CHS - 59%

  • We have come to an agreement with SOMEA regarding mechanical ventilation and have purchased more than 200 air purification units that are being disseminated and will result in many more classrooms and instructional spaces being available for our Phased Reopening.

  • In accordance with the recent CDC and NJDOH guidance*, we have purchased individual partitions for each of our hybrid elementary students. This does not mean that each student will utilize a desk partition daily, but it is a fail-safe to assist our teachers in efficiently organizing our classrooms in the safest and most age-appropriate way (as well as to accommodate for instances for larger class sizes where 3-feet social distancing may not be possible).

As we move into Phase 4, we look forward to welcoming our 8th and 12th-grade students back to their school buildings on Monday.

More information is shared below regarding a new Hybrid Waitlist Consideration, Summer Programs Interest Survey for K-12 students as well as access to the Phase 4&5 Reopening presentation.

Dr. Ronald G. Taylor

Superintendent's Phase 4/5 Reopening Update Video Message

Superintendent Message: South Orange & Maplewood School District Update for Phases 4 -5 (4.22.21)

Parent/Guardian Summer Program Interest Form - Deadline, Monday, April 26

We are currently planning multiple summer programs for our K-12 students. This survey will help the District gather information on parent/guardian interest in having their child(ren) attend our summer programs. The information gathered will also guide our decisions in staffing, materials, and number of classes needs. Please fill out (1) survey per child who will or might attend a summer program. Days and times are subject to change slightly. We will close this survey on Monday, April 26th.

Click here to access the form: https://bit.ly/SOMSDSPSurvey

New! Hybrid Instruction Waitlist Consideration Form - Deadline, Friday, April 30

SOMSD families as we have shared throughout our reopening process, as a District we have had to remain nimble as we receive guidelines from the federal, state, and local levels. With the changes to our Phase 4 & 5 reopening plans, we understand that some families who had chosen to remain virtual or missed the final March 25 change request deadline may still desire the opportunity to have their child complete their school year in person. Therefore, we are providing an opportunity for families to be placed on a hybrid instruction waitlist.


  • Completion of this form does not guarantee placement for in-person schooling, your child will be waitlisted and as we monitor Phases 4 & 5 if another hybrid instruction opportunity is presented, your child will be considered for in-person instruction based on the monitoring guidelines share below.
  • We are not promising that we will be able to accommodate additional change requests;
  • You must submit (1) form for each child

Filling out this form means that should another hybrid opportunity arise, your child will be considered for in-person instruction based on the monitoring guidelines shared. As we monitor both Phase 4 & 5 reopening efforts: including # of students who actually attend in-person, operational logistics, space availability, # of COVID positivity cases, and other factors, we will make a determination if we are able to open up in-person opportunities to families who have requested to be added to this waitlist by the deadline. All families who desire to be placed on the waitlist (even if you have reached out to your building principal should fill out this form).

The deadline for waitlist submissions is Friday, April 30.

Click here for the form: bit.ly/SOMSDWaitlist

SOMSD Mental Health Resources for Students

Please view a list of mental health resources and support available to District students both internally and via external sources.


The SOMSD Covid-19 Dashboard will be updated weekly and will track and reflect positive cases of both virtual and in-person staff and students

School Highlights, Shout-Outs and In the News!

South Mountain Elementary Celebrates Earth Day 2021 Video

As we end out this week, and celebrated Earth Day yesterday, we wanted to share this great video from South Mountain Elementary. Together students, teachers and parents at South Mountain created a video to be shared for this year’s Earth Day, which took place on Thursday, April 22. Students and teachers were featured in the video after having submitted photos and video clips. It was shown in classes at South Mountain this week.
South Mountain Elementary Celebrates Earth Day 2021

Shout Out Corner: MMS in AP News

Maplewood Middle School English Teacher, Philip Yang's 6th grade Social Studies class and Principal Dara Gronau were highlighted in the Associated Press on a story focused on the great work teachers did on April 21 to hold space for kids to discuss the Chauvin verdict.

View the full story and video: Click Here

All Return to School Updates & Resources

All updates and resources regarding the District's January 2021 return to in-person instruction.

SOMSD Calendar of Events