As A Matter of Fact!

SOMSD Newsletter | Volume 3, Issue 2 - August 19, 2021

Superintendent's Corner

Hello SOMSD Community,

Please accept this brief update on our Fall Reopening. Our Reopening Task Force subcommittees are working diligently to finalize our plans that address the concerns of Covid-19 and the contagious Delta Variant. Our Departments of Health are also a part of this important conversation. Much progress has been made and we will be sharing timely updates shortly, we are also very hopeful that the State will also continue to release clear universal guidance as well.

We do understand that there are specific questions that center around students whose age does not allow for the option of vaccination. We know that there are questions around the lunch design and what mitigation measures will be taken. Our final plans will most certainly include customized lunch plans for each elementary school that include outdoor seating; we have also requested additional lunch monitors from our vendor to support greater social distancing during lunch. Please understand that these plans are more complex than ever due to our construction plans that are reducing the available outdoor space for some of our schools.

We have also heard from parents concerned about what quarantine measures will be in place... and what our instructional efforts include for those students who are required to quarantine. The quarantine messaging is very fluid because the science is evolving. Yesterday we shared the latest travel and quarantine guidance with the SOMSD community. You can find the link here:

The state recently shared that quarantine academic accommodations should be commensurate with what is occurring in the classroom. Therefore, if a student is required to quarantine, it will be our goal to provide a hybrid (broadcasting) methodology which will somewhat mirror that of the 2020-2021 school year. Please view yesterday’s communication, if your family will be traveling and your child will need to quarantine to begin the school year, they will need to reserve a Chromebook for pick up by a parent/guardian on either September 1 or 2 [ Chromebook Reservation Google Form Link:]

Thank you again for your patience and understanding. We will be providing more information shortly.

Educationally yours,

Dr. Ronald G. Taylor, Superintendent of Schools


Dear Parents / Guardians, Students, and Community Members,

As we begin to prepare for a September 2021 return to school, we know that families have pre-planned vacation trips or may be planning for a final trip with their child(ren) to wrap up the summer break. As such, we want to share the most recent travel quarantine guidelines for unvaccinated individuals as per CDC guidance, *NJ Department of Health and input from our local Departments of Health. For the purpose of this guidance, domestic travel is defined as travel lasting 24 hours or longer to states or US territories other than contiguous states (i.e., Pennsylvania, New York, Delaware, Connecticut).

Also note, if your child has to quarantine to begin the school year, they may access their classes virtually. If your child is in need of a computer device (i.e. Chromebook) to access their virtual classes for the beginning of the school year, you must submit a Chromebook Reservation form in order to pick up a device on either September 1 - 2 (follow the link below to access the form and for pick up information).

Please click the link for full details on quarantine guidelines for unvaccinated individuals and for access to the Chromebook Reservation form:

All Return to School Updates & Resources

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

2021-22 SY COVID-19 Parent Agreement Letter of Compliance E-Signatures Due by September 17

All families must submit a 2021-22 Parent COVID 19 Compliance Agreement for the upcoming school year by September 17, 2021. Parents will screen students before their children leave the house for in-person instruction. This includes temperature and symptom checking. Parents/Guardians are asked to e-sign the 2021-22 SY Parent Agreement Letter of Compliance with COVID-19 Guidelines. The letter will include: signs and symptoms of COVID-19; what to do when a child is ill; medical, health department and health insurance resources; travel advisory information; a reminder to update emergency contact information on PowerSchool; the importance of sending healthy children to school with a mask; and the necessity of picking up ill children from school promptly. The compliance agreement can be found on the Parent Portal under “Forms” and must be e-signed by September 17, 2021 for students to continue to attend in-person school or school-sponsored activities.

For more information click here.

Local COVID Vaccination & Testing

NJ vaccinations are now open to youth 12 years and up. Everyone 12 or older who lives, works, or studies in New Jersey is now eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine. Essex County is expected to provide the Pfizer vaccine for 12 and up at two locations:

  • Vaccination appointments are available at Essex County College and the Kmart West Orange location. Hours will be 3:00 p.m. -7:00 p.m., which is subject to change. You will be able to schedule an appt on or and see vaccine availability; walk-ups will also be accepted.

View previously shared information regarding local COVID testing and vaccination and other important Covid-related resources and assistance. Please visit the District website for information:

Technology Department Updates

Chromebooks For Students

Over the summer the technology department collected Chromebooks that were handed out during the 2020 - 2021 school year. Chromebooks were inventoried and inspected for damage. Devices were updated when necessary and an additional 1,800 Chromebooks were purchased and configured for the 2021 - 2022 school year.

This year, each student will be provided a district Chromebook to use throughout the year. This 1:1 methodology allows the district to further integrate technology into the learning experience and provide the tools necessary to transition to hybrid / remote instruction should the need arise. More information on the distribution of Chromebooks will be provided by the Technology Department during the months of August and September.

Network Infrastructure

During the summer the district began modernizing its network infrastructure. These upgrades will help to meet the ever-growing need for bandwidth and connectivity of staff and students.

  • District-Wide Area Network - The Wide Area Network (WAN) is responsible for connecting each of the school buildings together. Phone, Internet, and other services travel across the WAN. The district has increased the overall connectivity of the WAN and adjusted configurations to allow for future growth.
  • Internet - The district was limited in the amount of bandwidth it could provide due to a limitation with our Internet carrier. We have worked with the carrier to increase our overall internet connectivity and allow for future increases in bandwidth.
  • Hardware Infrastructure and Increased Wireless Connectivity - A more robust wireless infrastructure and core switching was procured and the replacement of 500 access points in the school district has begun. The new wireless access points will allow for larger wireless coverage and accommodate higher numbers of concurrent users.

Launch of SOMSD Rubicon Atlas: Public-Facing Website for the District’s K-12 Curriculum

Early last week, the Curriculum & Instruction Department announced that the District’s K-12 curriculum will now be available online. The District has partnered with Rubicon Atlas to build out a digital public-facing platform for the K-12 curriculum which is now open to SOMSD families and the broader community.

Access K-12 Online Curriculum Atlas site here:


Acting Commissioner, DOE, Angelica Allen-McMillan, Ed.D. Tours Two District Schools

On Thursday, July 29, the District hosted Acting Commissioner, Department of Education, Angelica Allen-McMillan, Ed.D. as she toured two schools, Marshall Elementary and South Orange Middle School to view their summer programming in action. Commissioner McMillan was joined by Assemblywoman Mila Jasey, Legislative District 27, Joseph Zarra, Interim Executive County Superintendent and Neal Webster, County Education Specialist.

Commissioner McMillan shared, “We were very impressed with your summer school programming. While walking from classroom to classroom we were pleased to see smiling, enthusiastic students immersed in thoughtfully crafted learning experiences. In addition, your programming included a wide variety of offerings, innovative scheduling, and Social-Emotional Learning (SEL) programming. Students and their parents in the South Orange & Maplewood School District are fortunate in that they have such a wide variety of courses to take that are taught by passionate and engaging educators.”

Welcome to the 2021 - 22 BOE Student Reps

The District was proud to have our new BOE student representatives, Noah Morros and Vanessa Previlon officially join us during the August 16, Board of Education meeting to begin their roles. (Left to right: Noah Morros, Superintendent Ronald Taylor, Vanessa Previlon and Board President, Thair Joshua).
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Our Partners Are Hiring!

Our partners are currently seeking to fill part-time and/or full-time job opportunities. If you are looking for a job opportunity or know of someone looking for work please share the information below with them (see flyers below).


  • Our food service provider, Pomptonian looks forward to welcoming our students back in September and offering them nutritious, tasty, and appealing meals each day. They are actively recruiting some new team members that are looking for a family-friendly schedule. If you are seeking a flexible and family-friendly schedule and the opportunity to work in the school nutrition program, Pomptonian Food Service wants you on their team. To apply for a position visit

South Mountain YMCA

  • Our partners S. Mountain YMCA who offer before and after-care services are looking for talented staff to serve our members, program participants, and community. If you are looking for a new work opportunity, apply to the link below. If you know someone who would be a good addition to the South Mountain YMCA team, you are eligible to receive referral discount credits up to $500 to your account if you refer the candidate and they are hired! Please send the following link to prospective applicants to apply. A $500 sign-on bonus is being offered as well. Link:
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SOMSD 2021-2022 Calendar of Events

  • Tues., August 31: All Teachers Report & Staff Development
  • Wed., September 1: All Teachers Report & Staff Development
  • Thurs., September 2: All Teachers Report & Convocation Day
  • Fri - Mon., September 3 - 6: Holiday Recess/Labor Day—District Closed
  • Tues - Wed., September 7& 8: Rosh Hashanah—District Closed
  • Thurs., September 9: First Day of School: Grades PreK-7/9
  • Fri., September 10: First Day of School: Grades 8/10-12
  • Mon., September 20: BOE Meeting, Public Session @ 7:30 pm