Back to School Updates

Fall 2020

Welcome

Welcome to the 2020-2021 school year. I am truly enthusiastic about welcoming your children back to our schools. Whether hybrid or virtual, all students will interact with their teachers and their peers through our connected approach to instruction. While designed in response to the challenges presented by COVID, the connected approach is truly innovative and will keep all of our students engaged regardless of whether they are at home or in school. Time will be allotted daily for live instruction and interactive discussion and assignments in all subject areas. Additionally, social and emotional learning will be a significant focus for our school community as we transition back to "in person" learning. Although a challenging time to be in education, it is also an exciting time as we work diligently to refine our craft to meet the needs of our diverse learners.


Several schools have received requests from parents to transfer their children from virtual to hybrid. The last day to make such requests will be Thursday, September 3. After that, students may switch from virtual to hybrid only at the beginning of the second marking period.


If you have a student in second grade through eighth grade and have not picked up his or her Chromebook, please contact the school office to make arrangements for pick up.


I wish you and your children a wonderful school year.

School Hours and Extended Arrival Times

The school times for our initial opening are listed below. We have extended our arrival times from 10 minutes to 20 minutes to maximize social distancing. Walkers and car riders must arrive in the first ten minutes after the doors open. Buses will be unloaded in the last ten minutes of the arrival window.


Barkalow and Eisenhower

Doors Open: 7:20 AM

School Begins: 7:40 AM

Dismissal: 11:40 AM


Applegate, Donovan, and West Freehold

Doors Open: 8:05 AM

School Begins: 8:25 AM

Dismissal: 12:25 PM


Catena and Errickson

Doors Open: 8:40 AM

School Begins:9:00 AM

Dismissal: 1:00 PM


ECLC

Doors Open: 9:00 AM

School Begins: 9:20 AM

Dismissal: 1:20 PM

Remote Instruction - The First Two Weeks of School

As you are aware, the first two weeks of school (Sept. 8 through Sept. 18) will be full remote learning for most students. Students are expected to log on to computers at the start time for their schools using the links that will be provided by their teachers. There will be a component of live instruction in each subject area daily, and students are expected to be engaged in instruction and activities through the early dismissal time for their schools. The purpose behind these first two weeks being fully remote is to provide us opportunities in the afternoons to present professional development to our staff in preparation for our connected approach to instruction. Therefore for the first 2 weeks there will be no afternoon office hours or afternoon instruction with teachers. Office hours and afternoon instruction will begin the week of Sept. 21.

Connected Approach - September 21 and Beyond

Beginning Monday, September 21, students will be instructed through our connected approach. Hybrid students will begin to attend school according to the calendars published on the website, in this newsletter, and available through your children's school. In this model, students receive instruction a majority of the day through synchronous learning. Some independent work and follow up instruction, activities, or assignments may incorporate asynchronous learning. A few examples are below:


    • Example - the teacher provides a formal lesson with follow up discussion (synchronous) followed up by an independent activity (asynchronous)

    • Example - the teacher provides a minilesson in writing (synchronous) and then students write independently (asynchronous). While students are writing, students rotate meeting with the teacher for a small group strategy lesson and/or individual writing conferences (synchronous)

    • Example - the teacher uses station rotation for a math lesson. Students are working in cooperative groups (synchronous), then rotate to independent work (asynchronous), then to a small group lesson with the teacher (synchronous)



Benefits of the connected approach include:


  • Students remain in their home schools with their originally assigned teachers regardless if virtual or hybrid

  • Relationships are established between all the students in the class and between the students and the teacher to facilitate a smooth transition back to a traditional school day/setting

  • Students who choose to transfer from virtual to hybrid can do so with ease and not change teachers

  • Students who are quarantined or absent can still “attend” school virtually

  • Small group instruction and cooperative groups can occur between students in school and students at home via Zoom breakout rooms

  • Staff do not require reassignment, possibly teaching a new grade level

  • The district will be properly staffed for reopening, avoiding the possibility of being remote for lack of staffing.


After dismissal staff and students will get time for a break and lunch. Then, elementary students may be asked to meet with their teachers for personalized instruction and conferences. One day per week elementary students will have a related art outside of the four hour school day. Middle school teachers will have office hours for students to receive instructional support. Students may also be assigned follow up assignments or ongoing projects to complete after the four hour day as well.

A Note About Assessments Administered at Home

Students enrolled in the hybrid model and in the virtual model will periodically be assigned district assessments to complete at home. It is imperative that parents do not provide assistance or support in any capacity as students complete these assessments. Many of our assessments are used to determine at what level to place students in varied texts and as the foundation for personalized learning paths. If the results are skewed and do not reflect a student's true academic achievement or cognitive ability, we run the risk of providing him or her with instruction that is not appropriate. Providing students instruction that is not at their instructional or independent levels can result in less academic growth over the course of the school year. Therefore, we must reinforce the expectation that students complete all assessments independently. Thank you for your support in this matter as it is truly in the best interest of your children.

Student Attendance

Student attendance will be taken beginning the first day of school. In order for a student to be present, he or she must be logged on to all live sessions throughout the four hour school day. If your child cannot log on due to child care issues, please notify his or her school administrators and an alternate method of tracking attendance will be discussed.

A Note About Masks

As per the New Jersey Department of Education guidance provided to all school districts, masks are required to be worn by all staff and students throughout the school day. Students who ride buses are required to wear their masks from the time they board their buses in the morning until they disembark their buses after the school day concludes. Students who walk to school or are driven to school must wear face masks once they enter school property and can remove the face masks once they leave school property at the conclusion of the school day. Masks may be removed to enjoy a drink of water or during snack, if scheduled. The school district will provide students with two reusable face masks that must be washed after each day's use. Students are permitted to wear their personal face masks, however they may not contain one way valves and must fully cover their noses and mouths. Neck gaiters are not considered proper protection and are not permitted. Face shields are not considered a face covering, but may be worn in addition to a face mask. If your child has difficulty wearing a face mask for an extended period of time, please contact his or her school administrators to discuss options, including desensitizing the wearing of the mask over the next two weeks.

Student Lunch Purchases and Free and Reduced Lunch

For the 2020-2021 School Year, Freehold Township BOE will be accepting online applications for the Free and Reduced Lunch Program. For a paper application and our district policies regarding lunch purchases, please check the district website by clicking here.


https://www.mymealtime.com/Apps


Please call or email with any questions.


Ali McKee

Determining Official for Free & Reduced Lunch Program

732-462-8400 x8809

amckee@freeholdtwp.k12.nj.us