Reopening Our Schools

  • November 20, 2020

    Dear Lacey Township School District Community,

    I hope this letter finds our Lacey families well and gearing up for the holidays. As you know, Governor Murphy and the NJ Department of Health have recently updated the COVID-19 public health recommendations. With that in mind, I would like to take a moment to share some information with you as it relates to COVID 19 and our ability to continue to keep schools open as the cases rise in our state and nation. 

    Based on the latest COVID 19 Activity Level Report for Ocean County, our region (Central East) has transitioned from Moderate Risk (yellow) category to the High Risk (orange) category. This change requires districts to enhance the method of contact tracing. Our schools will remain open during this time; however, we ask all families to consider the following points so that we can continue to keep our students and families safe.

    1. Close contact is defined as 15 cumulative minutes of exposure in a 24-hour period at a distance of 6 feet or less from 48 hours prior to the positive or symptomatic person developing symptoms or testing positive for COVID 19. 
    2. If you or a member of your household comes into close contact with an individual with COVID 19 you can not come to school, you must quarantine, and you must contact your school nurse immediately.
    3. If you or a member of your immediate household comes into close contact with an individual with COVID 19 compatible symptoms you can not come to school, you must quarantine and you must contact your school nurse immediately.
    4. If you or a member of your immediate household is awaiting the results of a COVID 19 test you can not come to school until you have received the results of the test and have contacted your school nurse for further instructions.
    5. Any families that travel to or return from any of the travel advisory states for the holidays or otherwise, must quarantine for 14 days upon return.

    Our goal is to continue to remain open and provide students with in-person instruction. We believe that if we implement and follow these expectations, we can remain open for our students and continue to offer a safe learning environment for the foreseeable future. Please enjoy a happy and safe holiday and do not hesitate to contact me with any questions. 

    For further information regarding COVID-19 public health recommendations, please refer to the New Jersey Department of Health COVID-19 Public Health Recommendations for Local Health Departments for K-12 Schools.

    Sincerely,
    Vanessa P. Clark, Ph.D. 
    Superintendent of Schools


    October 30, 2020

    Dear Lacey Township School District Families:

    As we approach the end of the first marking period, I am reminded of the long road that we all have traveled to get to this point. There have been decisions to make, new skills to learn, new habits to form, and a constant reminder that while no plan is perfect, we were able to successfully open our schools on September 21 for in-person learning.

    We now turn our attention to the expansion of our re-entry plan as we consider how all of our students will return to school for daily instruction five days per week. Please know there are many factors to consider when making these decisions. These include decisions made by the Governor’s Office, an increase in the rise of COVID-19 cases, and unknown factors related to the upcoming flu season. Keeping all this in mind, we will begin to return students to school as outlined below.

    November 9, 2020 - Special education students in Grades K through 6 who are in the LLD program will return to school for daily instruction five days a week.

    November 16, 2020 - Parents previously received communication about how to transition students to a new instructional model. Those students who will transition to a new instructional model will begin on Monday, November 16, 2020.

    Our school district is working to move towards a 5 day in-person schedule for all students in the near future. More information will be shared as soon as we finalize those plans. In the meantime, I would like to remind you of a few important items.

    • School is closed next week, Monday, November 2 through Friday, November 6.
    • As of Tuesday, October 27, 2020, there are currently 41 states and U.S. Jurisdictions that meet the travel advisory criteria. As per my communication dated October 7, please be mindful of the self-quarantine guidelines that may impact your child(ren). The list is updated frequently, so please check the most up to date travel restrictions by visiting the New Jersey COVID-19 Information Hub.
    • If you have any questions during the week that we are closed related to out-of-state travel or school-related COVID-19 issues, please send an email to: LTSDReopening@laceyschools.org. 

    Thank you for your efforts in keeping our schools and community safe.

    Sincerely, 
    Vanessa P. Clark
    Superintendent of Schools

     


    October 20, 2020

    Dear Lacey Township School District Families:

    I hope this communication finds you well. As we approach the end of the first marking period, I am writing to let you know that you will have the opportunity to transition your child to a new model of instruction based on the school reopening guidelines that were outlined prior to school opening. 

    Parents who would like to transition their child from the Hybrid A/B Model to the Full-Time Remote Model OR the Full-Time Remote model to the Hybrid A/B model MUST COMPLETE the Request to Transition Instructional Delivery Model by clicking on the link. Please complete the form no later than Friday, October 23, 2020. You DO NOT need to complete this form if you DO NOT want to change your child's current instructional model.

    This information can also be found on the Lacey Township School District website under Reopening Our Schools. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact your child’s Principal. 

    Sincerely,
    Vanessa P. Clark, Ph.D.
    Superintendent of Schools


    October 7, 2020

    Dear Lacey Township School District Families:

    November and December are typically an exciting time in our students’ lives as they look forward to the holiday season and the possibility of out-of-state travel.  With that in mind, I write to remind the families and students of the Lacey Township School Community of the travel advisory issued by Governor Murphy in June 2020 and the responsibilities it places upon all those traveling to impacted states and international destinations.  According to the Governor’s travel advisory, those returning to New Jersey should self-quarantine for fourteen (14) days if they have traveled from restricted states and territories.  The State maintains a list of these locations, which is available online at the following address:  https://covid19.nj.gov/.  The list of impacted states is updated weekly.

    In light of the Governor’s post-travel quarantine recommendation, it is possible that out-of-state travel will delay your child’s ability to return to school following your arrival home in New Jersey. Students who have travelled to an impacted state will be required to attend school via remote learning for the quarantine period, which will be fourteen (14) calendar days following their last day in an impacted state.  Therefore, until the Governor lifts the travel advisory, I encourage you to take two steps prior to traveling out of state.  First, please consult with the updated list of impacted states when making any future travel plans and consider avoiding travel to impacted states in order to continue maintaining a safe school environment for yourself and others who are part of the school community.  Second, should you choose to travel to an impacted state, thereby necessitating a quarantine upon your return to New Jersey, please notify your school’s principal as soon as possible prior to your travel so that the school may have  advanced notice in order to plan for the delivery of remote instruction to your child.

    Governor Murphy’s travel advisory is intended to protect the health and safety of all those with whom a traveler may come into contact.  The Lacey Township School District takes the health and safety of its students, staff, faculty, and administration very seriously, and requires your help in safeguarding the well-being of the school community.  For additional information on the Governor’s quarantine travel advisory please see the New Jersey Department of Health’s Self-Quarantine for Travelers FAQ. Finally, please contact your school’s principal for questions about remote learning.

    Thank you for your efforts to keep our schools and community safe.

    Sincerely, 
    Vanessa P. Clark
    Superintendent of Schools


    September 18, 2020

    Dear Lacey Township School District Families:

    I hope this communication finds you well as the summer winds down. The purpose of this communication is to remind you that the Hybrid Cohort Model will begin on Monday, September 21, 2020 for all students who elected this learning model. As you prepare to send your child(ren) back to school, please remember:

    • Face coverings will be required for all students at all times while inside a school building regardless of social distancing unless doing so would inhibit the individual’s health. 
    • Students are required to wear face coverings on the bus ride into school in the morning, and on the bus ride home.
    • We will conduct daily temperature screens with No-Contact Thermometers, but we again reinforce the importance of students staying home when sick until at least 24 hours after they no longer have a fever (temperature of 100 or higher) without the use of fever-reducing medicine. To that end, we ask that parents conduct daily home screenings prior to students boarding a school bus or arriving at school. 

    Our school nurses have prepared an overview of the health protocols that we have implemented to keep everyone healthy and safe. The document, Health Protocols from Your School Nurse was sent to you earlier today via email and is also posted on our website under Reopening Our Schools. 

    Many parents have asked whether the half days on the school calendar have been eliminated. Because our hybrid school days have already been shortened, the following half days on the school calendar have been eliminated: 

    • October 9
    • November 18, 19, 20
    • November 25
    • December 23
    • March 12
    • May 28

    An updated school calendar reflecting these dates can be found on our website under "Reopening Our Schools."

    Finally, we have created another video to provide parents with an Overview of the Health and Safety Protocols that we have implemented throughout our schools and on our school buses to keep everyone safe. It provides great insight to the commonly asked question: “What has the school district done to keep everyone safe?” Again, while we will do everything we can to ensure the safety of our students and staff, we cannot do it alone. It is a shared responsibility in which we all must make a concerted effort to strictly follow health and safety protocols. 

    Remember, we are Lions and that makes us courageous! I look forward to welcoming our students back to our school buildings on Monday, September 21. Have a great weekend and continue to stay safe.

    Sincerely, 
    Vanessa P. Clark, Ph.D.
    Superintendent of Schools


    September 3, 2020

    Dear Lacey Township School District Families:

    We have almost arrived at the start of a brand new school year. To say that it will be unusual is an understatement. I know there is some anxiety and uncertainty, but as always, we are committed to getting through it together, one day at a time. The purpose of this communication is to update you on a variety of topics.

    First, our goal and full intention is to open the school year with the plans already communicated to you.

    September 8: School starts on the remote learning model for all students. 

    September 14: School starts in-person for students who require specific specialized programming and services. 

    September 21: Start of the Hybrid A/B Cohort Learning Model for all students who elected this learning model. 

    An updated school calendar reflecting these dates can be found on our website under “Reopening Our Schools.“

    2020-2021 Health and Safety Guidelines

    Throughout the summer, the NJ Department of Education (NJDOE), NJ Department of Health (NJDOH), and the CDC have regularly updated us with information. As a result, we have updated our school reopening plans and Board policies. Outlined below are several important rules for our students:

    • Face coverings will be required for all students at all times while inside a school building regardless of social distancing unless doing so would inhibit the individual’s health. The updated guidance from NJDOE on face coverings for students will also include several exceptions to this standard including an exception for certain students with disabilities. Students are required to wear face coverings on the bus ride into school in the morning, and on the bus ride home.
    • While we will conduct daily temperature screens with N0-Contact Thermometers, we again reinforce the importance of students staying home when sick until at least 24 hours after they no longer have a fever (temperature of 100 or higher) without the use of fever-reducing medicine. To that end, we ask that parents conduct daily home screenings prior to students boarding a school bus or arriving at school. 

    Health Measures

    • Buildings have all been cleaned and teachers have been working hard to make the classrooms educationally inviting and ready for students to learn. 
    • All classrooms will have a supply of hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes. 
    • Our custodial staff will sanitize and clean frequently, with a thorough sanitization taking place on a daily basis. 
    • Student seating has been spaced as far apart as possible. Desk shields and barriers are a measure the NJDOH and NJDOE have authorized as barriers that assist with virus mitigation when 6 feet of distancing is not possible. Desk shields and barriers have been provided as needed. 
    • Physical guides and directional signs have been installed in each of the six schools to help ensure that staff and students remain at least 6 feet apart in hallways, lines, and at other times. 

    Visitors to the School Buildings

    • In an effort to minimize the number of non-essential interactions between school staff and outside visitors, all visitors are required to make appointments so that proper visitor management protocols are followed. 
    • With appointments, all visitors will be required to wear face coverings. Additionally, all visitors will be required to complete a health screen form and have a temperature screen completed before being admitted into the building.

    A common question that is asked is: “How will we keep everyone safe?” While we will do everything we can to ensure the safety of our students and staff, we cannot do it alone. It is a shared responsibility in which we all must make a concerted effort to strictly follow health and safety protocols. 

    Again, the first day of school will be an unusual one, but we are Lions and that makes us courageous! I look forward to welcoming our students to the new school year.

    Continue to stay safe.

    Sincerely, 
    Vanessa P. Clark, Ph.D.
    Superintendent of Schools


    August 18, 2020

    Dear Lacey Township School District Families and Staff:

    On August 4, 2020 I presented the Lacey Township School District plan for reopening our schools. During that presentation, I stated that we were preparing to welcome students back to school beginning Tuesday, September 8. I also shared the Lacey Township School District School Reopening Plan, which includes district-specific protocols related to the 10 critical areas of operation outlined in the NJ Department of Education (NJDOE) Restart and Recovery Plan. Since then, we have continued our preparations to open our schools with health and safety as the most important considerations.

    The purpose of this communication is to let you know that school will open for all students on Tuesday, September 8, 2020 on the remote learning model only. To ensure we meet and exceed the Governor’s minimum expectations for in-person instruction, we will move the start of our Hybrid A/B Cohort learning model to Monday, September 21, 2020. Some of our students who require specific specialized programming and services (that can be difficult to replicate through remote learning) will have the opportunity to receive those services earlier.

    The schedule moving forward for the Lacey Township School District is as follows:

    • September 1 to 3: All faculty and staff will engage in professional development to start the school year.
    • September 8: School starts on the remote learning model for all students. 
    • September 14: School starts in-person for students who require specific specialized programming and services. Details about this will be forthcoming.
    • September 21: Start of the Hybrid A/B Cohort Learning Model for all students who elected this learning model. 

    An updated school calendar reflecting these changes will be issued for the entire school year in the near future.

    An area that we have focused on tremendously is instruction in both the remote and hybrid models. When school closed last March, we had very little time to make the transition to remote instruction. In fact, and I’ve said it many times, we accomplished in two days what should have taken two years to plan and implement. With that said, our team has worked tirelessly to prepare for the type of instruction that will serve students in both a hybrid and remote setting. The four areas we concentrated on are 1) ensuring that clear expectations are set, 2) providing students with engaging and robust content, 3) ensuring that guidance and support are abundant, and 4) providing students (and families) with quality feedback. We will continue to evaluate our methodology to ensure that all students are afforded the best possible learning opportunities and experiences. During our Board Meeting on Thursday, District Supervisor, Mr. Zylinski, will provide a description of what instruction will look like in both the hybrid and remote instruction models. 

    Another item that is on everyone’s mind is whether co-curricular clubs and activities will take place. These might include activities related to music, art, drama, academics, or special interest topics. Research tells us that participation in co-curricular activities is essential for students in emotional development, social skill development, and overall personality development. Recognizing this importance, we will strive to implement these types of activities when the start of the Hybrid A/B Cohort Model begins on September 21.

    Finally, our attention has also been focused on other areas to prepare for school opening. These include purchasing, distributing, and installing safety and health materials across the district, purchasing and preparing devices to ensure equity, purchasing curriculum materials for the implementation of new programs, and planning for staff professional development. 

    As the beginning of the school year draws closer, we will continue to communicate with our families about important dates and upcoming events. As we have witnessed in the past months, information changes rapidly, and we must be prepared to pivot at a moment’s notice. While this pandemic has forced us to think and behave differently, one thing we know for sure is that we want our students back in school, and we want our lives to return to normal. To that end, we are committed to getting there one day at a time.

    Continue to stay safe.

    Sincerely, 
    Vanessa P. Clark, Ph.D.
    Superintendent of Schools


    August 4, 2020

    Dear Lacey Township School District Families and Staff:

    We are preparing to welcome students back to school beginning Tuesday, September 8. Our team has worked tirelessly this summer to put comprehensive plans and safety precautions in place so we are able to safely return to school. The Lacey Township School District School Reopening Plan includes district-specific protocols related to the 10 critical areas of operation outlined in the NJ Department of Education (NJDOE) Restart and Recovery Plan. The plan goes into great detail about the health and safety measures being implemented to mitigate the risks posed by COVID-19. It is also important to know that the plan is an evolving document and will be adjusted accordingly to reflect the revisions and expectations provided by the NJDOE and the Governor’s task force. Please be sure to check our website regularly under the section titled “Reopening Our Schools” for updated announcements and information. 

    As outlined in my July 21 communication, Lacey families will have the option to choose between two instructional models: the Hybrid A/B Cohort Model and the Full-Time Remote-Only Instruction Model. We have prepared a Reopening Our Schools video slideshow presentation to provide you with an overview of both models so you can make the best decision for your child’s attendance in the fall. 

    Once you have carefully reviewed the School Reopening Plan and the slideshow, we are asking that parents complete a short Return to School Commitment Form no later than August 9, 2020. If a form is not completed by August 9, we will assume that your child(ren) will return for face-to-face learning in the Hybrid A/B Cohort Model. 

    We all continue to be challenged by the coronavirus crisis and the obstacles that it has placed in our path. Despite this, I am grateful that we live in a community that is caring, collaborative, and patient. We all share the responsibility to protect ourselves and others from COVID-19. To that end, it is imperative that we remain steadfast in following CDC guidelines for a safe return to school. 

    As we have learned over the past several months and weeks, guidance for responding to this crisis changes regularly. We should all be prepared for potential future changes to school schedules, including the closure of schools. As always, we will continue to update you as information becomes available.

    If you have questions or concerns, please send an email to LTSDReopening@laceyschools.org or contact your child’s Principal. Continue to stay safe!

    Sincerely,
    Vanessa P. Clark, Ph.D.
    Superintendent of Schools