Kinnelon School District’s Hybrid Plan

The+Kinnelon+school+district+has+chosen+to+implement+a+hybrid+plan+with+the+option+for+students+to+go+fully+virtual.

Photo courtesy of Deleece Cook.

The Kinnelon school district has chosen to implement a hybrid plan with the option for students to go fully virtual.

“Uncertainty” just might be the word that many would use to describe the feelings about this upcoming 2020-2021 school year. However, the Kinnelon school district is working diligently to provide new information as it comes in, all the while trying to be as transparent as possible with the problems they have been facing regarding the many new protocols that must be followed to ensure both the students’ and staff’s safety this year.

This large amount of information the district is supplying the Kinnelon families can be quite overwhelming at first; however, we’ll be breaking down the main problems, precautionary steps, and emergency responses the school district plans to take to provide a quick snapshot of how school in September will look.

 

The district’s biggest concerns:

  • The district’s HVAC systems were not all up to par with the new guidelines since some required repairs and new parts. Superintendent Diane DiGiuseppe noted that the high school’s HVAC system worried them the most.
  • The schools’ bandwidth was found to be unable to support the live streaming of all the classes. However, the Board of Education voted to move the start date of school back to Sept. 10 due to a bandwidth update occurring on Sept. 8.
  • The lack of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) due to the school district donating their PPE last Spring at the behest of the hospitals and State. Despite many generous individuals and families donating PPE, the schools still have a lack of supplies.
  • A couple dozen staff members in the district have responded that they are at “high risk for severe illness from COVID-19,” more responded that they were caring for a cohabiting family member who is at high risk, and an even larger amount of teachers responded that they are caring for a child whose school and/or childcare provider is closed or unavailable due to COVID-19 related reasons.

 

The extra lengths the school is taking to ensure both physical and mental wellbeing as well as a more successful virtual school experience:

  • All the teachers across the district are receiving a lot of professional development to make the experience better for students. However, DiGiuseppe urges for all families to understand that virtual instruction will never be a good replacement for traditional in-person instruction.
  • The district formed a Crisis Response Team composed of school counselors and psychologists as well as both school social workers and licensed social workers from CarePlus NJ to look after both the students’ and teachers’ mental health.
  • Cones will be put in the school hallways to direct student traffic in the halls while maintaining safe distances.
  • Gaiter masks, vented masks, and bandanas will not be allowed to be worn in school.
  • There will be a Home Health Screening form that will be filled out daily by students (or parents if the students are unable / not old enough to fill it out on their own) on OnCourse.
  • According to DiGiuseppe, “there will be asynchronous assignments intermixed with teacher check-in during at-home instruction.”

 

Frequently asked questions:

  • Will there be temperature screenings before entering school?
    • According to DiGiuseppe, “The CDC guidelines discourage temperature checks, especially since many pediatric cases of COVID-19 are asymptomatic or with mild symptomatology that doesn’t include a fever.” Furthermore, as stated in Info Session #2, the schools would likely face HIPAA violations due to being unable to remove a child with a fever from the temperature checking line without altering others. 
  • What does Wednesday serve as / what will they look like?
    • As of now, Wednesdays for all students will be completely at home. This day will serve as a day for teachers to make sure they are in sync with one another as well as give the janitors a day to sanitize the school for the new wave of students that come in the following day. Students will not have virtual instruction on this day, rather, they will be given a virtual assignment to complete. Teachers will also be receiving professional development every Wednesday.
  • What is considered an outbreak in school?
    • An outbreak in a school setting is called when there are two or more confirmed COVID-19 cases within 14 days of each other amongst people who do not share a household, are epidemiologically linked, and who were not in close contact with one another.

To watch the past info sessions, visit the school district website on the main page to look over the presentations and watch the recorded Zoom info sessions.

To virtually attend the next info session on September 2, 2020, make sure to sign up prior to the start of the meeting to ensure entry.

For more information, go to the school district website and read the Kinnelon Public Schools Restart and Recovery Plan, the NJDOE Checklist for Reopening Schools, the NJDOH Public Health Recommendations for K-12 Schools, and more.

If you have any questions pertaining to the hybrid plan, school safety, or logistics, email the Kinnelon School District Superintendent, Diane DiGiuseppe, at [email protected]