FAQ:

September 2020 - Opening With Confidence


We are prioritizing safety and equity,
and working with partners across multiple domains of expertise,
to bring our students back to campus.


Contents & Summary:

Hunterdon Central is guided by county-wide public health principles to ensure safety in the face of the pandemic. We are relying on guidance from the New Jersey Department of Education to achieve mandated minimum standards for our program.

This webpage discusses our reopening planning across two main sections.

Section 1: Frameworks for Reopening

Learn about principles and strategies for reopening, and our reopening planning process.

Section 2: Plans for Return

Learn about specific work that we will undertake to achieve public health, educational, and social/emotional goals in the areas of: Facilities, Nutrition Services, and Transportation; Instruction; Counseling and Operations; Wellness; and Equity.

The rest of this section provides a summary of the specific work that we describe in Section 2. Please see each section for more details.


A Hybrid Schedule

Hunterdon Central will follow a hybrid schedule in September 2020. In this schedule, we will divide students primarily alphabetically, with half attending school on an early dismissal schedule on Monday and Tuesday of each week, and the other half attending school on an early dismissal schedule on Thursday and Friday of each week. After departure from school on in-person days, students will engage in remote instruction activities until formal “dismissal” at 2:03 PM.

On days when students are not in school, including Wednesday, they will be engaged in remote instruction activities. On Wednesday of each week, we will conduct deep cleaning and collaborative lesson planning with staff.

Read more about our Hybrid Schedule.

Facilities, Nutrition Services, and Transportation

We are taking many steps to increase the safety of students, staff, and visitors in our facilities. These include but are not limited to:

  • Utilization of additional cleaning and sanitizing equipment, including electrostatic spray cleaners and hydroxyl generators
  • Increased sanitizing of occupied areas and high-touch surfaces
  • Arrangement of classroom furniture to ensure more distancing
  • Increased airflow and air exchange through the adjustment of HVAC controls and other steps

We regret that, in order to accomplish this work, we will not be able to offer our facilities to outside users, including booster clubs, until further notice.

We do not offer a lunch block on an early dismissal schedule, but will offer grab-and-go meals to students at dismissal and at locations throughout the community to the extent that we are required by law and regulations. Lunch in our schedule, even at reduced capacity and/or split into multiple sessions, poses too many challenges in our efforts to comply with distancing and crowding limitations.

In busing, we are taking steps to ensure the safety of our students and staff. Buses will all have hand sanitizing gel dispensers. Drivers will sit behind a transparent curtain. We will also sanitize buses throughout the day.

Read more about our Facilities, Nutrition Services, and Transportation plans.

Instructional

We expect all students to be at the same place in the curriculum as other students in the same course, and learning at the same pace as if we were running a normal program, regardless of the day of the week in our hybrid model. We will support teachers in accomplishing this goal by encouraging synchronous broadcasting of instruction, flexible arrangement of activities, and more.

To find the best balance between flexibility and accountability for students, we are continuing work to focus curriculum on key concepts and skills. We are also expanding the use of common diagnostic and other tests and assessments, to provide teachers with the best information about student strengths and weaknesses.

Relationship-building will also be a key component of our instructional approach in September, with the recognition that we may need to move to full remote learning for all students if the public health situation requires.

Read more about Instructional Plans.

Counseling and Operations

All students and staff will need to be masked at all times while on campus. In the event of a health issue that precludes masking, we will work with students and their families on a case-by-case basis to determine an appropriate alternative face covering or other circumstance. A student who refuses to wear a mask without a precluding health or other condition will be removed from in-person instruction, and placed on full remote instruction.

We will limit some hallways and stairwells to one-way travel in order to reduce mixing and crowding. To the same ends, we may also adjust the early dismissal bell schedule to stagger dismissal from classes.

We are following specific protocols for visitors, which involve temperature checks, assurances of health, and more.

Student symptom checking may occur through an online “Symptom-free Assurance” that parents complete each morning. Temperature checking may be required to follow up on students for whom we do not receive a daily assurance.

We will follow exclusion and quarantine protocols set by the New Jersey Department of Health for students who exhibit symptoms, have tested positive, have been placed on quarantine, and in all other relevant situations. These protocols may require students to be absent from in-person instruction for a certain number of days or weeks.

Health and nursing services will be reconfigured to respond to the pandemic, and to provide respectful isolation of suspected positive cases. Nurses are working with our District Physician and the Department of Health to follow all best practices.

Counseling Services will continue to provide individualized support to students, both remotely and in-person, and will take steps to minimize potential exposure in counseling offices. We are also integrating a new counseling resource to provide more intensive support, therapy, and case management for families with students in need.

Read more about Counseling and Operations Plans.

Wellness

We will continue to work with students--in a formal Student Wellness Group, and through coordination of clubs and athletics teams--to empower everyone to conduct wellness projects for our community.

Wellness Workshops, in which we invite experts in the community to speak to our students about topics that they identify as important to them, will continue in a virtual format.

Our work on school culture will also continue, as we continue to grow in our understanding of Nurtured Heart and other models. We will expand this work into examination of various policies and regulations to ensure that they support our work to improve our organizational and classroom culture, both during these times and more “normal” times.

In all of our attention on wellness, we are developing new ways to stay in touch with our community, and measure the impact of our efforts. We will continue to use climate and culture surveys, but will reinvent the surveys that we use to ensure that our questions recognize the new complexities of student wellness in the throes and aftermath of pandemic.

Read more about Wellness plans.

Equity

Hunterdon Central will offer a full remote option for families who desire it. Surveying of families will begin soon. As we build this program, our goal is to integrate full remote program students into existing class sections rather than create remote-only class sections.

Some students, particularly special and general education students in certain programs, will come to school for all in-person days, not just on a “Group 1” or “Group 2” schedule. We will work with families of students in these programs to develop the best schedule.

We will continue to provide wireless “hotspot” devices to families who need assistance accessing remote instruction resources.

We recognize the need to expand equity work with a focus on social justice and racism. In this, we will equip staff to begin to lead courageous conversations about social justice and injustice, both in classrooms and throughout our community. We will also engage in curriculum work to expand on education about the experiences of Americans from all different backgrounds. We will also work to untangle systems and rules that work against equity in grading, attendance, discipline, leveling, placement, ranking, and other policies.

Read more about Equity plans.


Section I
Frameworks for Return

This section describes decision-making and other frameworks as it details our agenda for the opening of the 2020-2021 school year. Our planning flows through four principles in preparation for three separate scenarios. We work across multiple domains to fulfill those principles.

Table of Contents for This Section


Return to the Main Contents and Summary Section.


OUR REOPENING PRINCIPLES:

The schools of Hunterdon County have examined guidance from dozens of states and countries to identify four reopening principles. Each district is developing strategies to fulfill each principle.

Our reopening principles, expressed as public health imperatives for all of our reopening work, are:

  • Reduce close contact and crowds.

We are guided by public health partners to define “close contact” as exposure to another person inside of 6 feet of social distance for 10 minutes or longer. The reduction of crowds and close contact serves two main purposes. First, this reduction increases space for social distancing. Second, this reduction serves to curtail the spread of any infection by limiting the number of people in contact with someone carrying the virus.

  • Reduce mixing.

The reduction of mixing serves primarily to curtail the spread of any infection by limiting the number of people in contact with someone carrying the virus. Hunterdon Central, like many high schools, would have a very difficult time reducing mixing to a significant degree and still be able to offer a meaningful in-person educational experience.

  • Monitor the prevalence of symptoms and spread in the school and community.

We monitor to ensure that we have a strong understanding of the spread of the virus in our school and our community. We can increase monitoring by requiring daily statements of symptoms from staff and students/parents. Though there is currently debate on the efficacy of temperature checking, the practice could potentially offer some insight into the spread of illness. We stay abreast of community spread by receiving data on specific public health indicators from the Hunterdon County Department of Health and the county’s medical community.

  • Reduce vectors and disinfect.

Personal hygiene and disinfecting high touch surfaces remain two of the most effective ways to ensure that the virus is less likely to spread outside of close contact between individuals.

Under each principle, we can describe strategies across different levels of restriction. “Level 3” represents the most restrictive, while “Level 0” represents practices during normal, non-pandemic times. Note that complete closure, as we experienced in the Spring of 2020, would represent restriction beyond Level 3.


THE PRINCIPLES IN DETAIL:

Reduce close contact and crowds. Key strategies are face covering and masking, reducing capacity by putting students and staff into shifts, adjusting our bell schedule to shrink or eliminate lunch crowding, and enforcing social distancing of 6 feet between individuals in classrooms, hallways, and all other areas.


Reduce mixing. Key strategies are reducing or eliminating movement of students on campus, creating one-way hallways and stairwells, and eliminating mixed gatherings outside of classes and transportation (e.g., lunch, extracurriculars, assemblies).


Monitor the prevalence of symptoms and spread in the school and community. Key strategies are temperature checking, symptom tracking and logging, and tracking of community public health data.


Reduce vectors and disinfect. Key strategies are personal hygiene, sterilization and sanitation, and elimination of unnecessary high-touch surfaces and shared equipment.


Return to the Table of Contents for Section 1.

Return to the Main Contents and Summary Section.


THREE OPERATING SCENARIOS:


Throughout the remainder of the COVID-19 crisis, we will operate through one or more of three separate scenarios, with the selection of any scenario at any time determined by specific gatekeeping criteria in public health indicators, such as infection rate, positive test rate, and others.

The school is working with the Hunterdon County Department of Health to identify thresholds in those indicators. It is our hope that those thresholds will combine with our school’s conditions and capabilities to guide the selection of any scenario at any time.

Shifting conditions may require that the district move from one scenario to another, either more or less restrictive. This may happen as a result of a change in public health conditions in our community, a spike in positive cases among students and/or staff, a closure order from a governmental agency, or other situations. In all decisions, we will work to balance our goal of returning to campus with the need to keep everyone medically safe, and to contribute to county-wide public health imperatives.

Scenario A: New Normal

This scenario allows for full attendance of staff and students, except where health considerations require any person to remain at home. In this scenario, we operate our full program on campus with adjustments to schedule and other practices to effect greater fulfillment of our principles. Significant changes to some practices are possible, in the most restrictive and intensive versions of this scenario. For example, the school could split lunch across multiple sessions to reduce crowding.

In this scenario, the restriction level of practices across strategies in our four reopening principles would likely average 1-2.

Scenario B: Hybrid

The second scenario could involve reducing the number of staff and/or students, requiring us to mix large-scale remote instruction with in-person instruction in order to offer our program. Different shifts of students may report each day for in-person instruction, for example, while those who do not report work on remote instruction.

We might also see a shortened in-person day. For example, classes might meet in the morning on an early dismissal schedule, with the afternoon reserved for remote instruction. In this example, lunch would not be served to most students.

Other significant adjustments would likely occur, such as reduction of movement, large changes to our bell schedule, and others.

In this scenario, the restriction level of practices across strategies in our four reopening principles would likely be greater than 2.

Scenario C: Remote Instruction

The school operates as it did in the Spring of 2020. That is, all facilities are closed except to essential operations as outlined in our emergency closure plan (e.g., meal preparation and distribution, support for remote instruction, etc.). Students and staff would work from a remote location.

In this scenario, most if not all strategies are operating at restriction levels beyond Level 3.

No matter which scenario we choose, individual staff and students with health and other considerations may need to remain on remote instruction. Hunterdon Central intends to offer flexibility where possible in offering remote instruction.

Return to the Table of Contents for Section 1.

Return to the Main Contents and Summary Section.


OUR PLANNING DOMAINS:


We must plan to implement strategies in fulfillment of our principles across multiple domains of work. These domains describe different functions, but also sit within a common need to address and achieve equity for all of our students.


Facilities Planning

Providing safe facilities and transportation for our students, staff, and community is always a priority. However, during a pandemic, planning in this area across our three scenarios in fulfillment of our principles involves:

  • Reducing touch surfaces and shared equipment
  • Conducting daily cleaning and sanitizing
  • Conducting periodic or necessitated deep cleaning
  • Considering new sanitation and hygiene practices (e.g., the conversion of lavatories from blower hand dryers to paper towels)
  • Supplying disinfecting wipes and hand-sanitizing gel
  • Supplying masks, face shields, plexiglass dividers, gloves, and other necessary protective equipment
  • Providing on-site custodial support to essential operations

The work described above goes beyond keeping things clean for the purposes of reducing potential spread. It also involves advising on and assisting with work practice controls--from helping to effect distancing through furniture arrangement, to assisting in the simplification of office and classroom surfaces to reduce shared equipment and high-touch surfaces. Staff members engaged in this domain are the stewards of a healthy and safe working and learning environment.

Instructional Planning

Our teachers must be ready to implement curricula in an environment that may shift from one operating scenario to another, perhaps multiple times across the school year. They must provide more individualization through the careful assessment of gaps in student learning, and the deliberate affordance of flexibility. Planning in this area across our three scenarios in fulfillment of our four principles involves:

  • Developing common diagnostic assessments of student strengths and weaknesses
  • Revising curriculum to more specifically identify critical paths and to provide for more flexible project-based work
  • Implementing flexible tutoring assistance and bridge programs for students
  • Providing for expanded remote instruction to accommodate health considerations in all scenarios
  • Providing flexible professional development
  • Facilitating device/access provisioning and IT support
  • Coordinating appropriate staff evaluation

The learning opportunities that our teachers offer must find the balance between flexibility and accountability, having evolved through lessons learned during our closure in the Spring of 2020.

Counseling/Operations Planning

Likewise, support for students across non-instructional operations must also focus on providing more individualization and flexibility, while contending with the demands of an extremely complex and volatile context. Planning in this area across our three scenarios in fulfillment of our four principles involves:

  • Providing nutrition services
  • Implementing health and safety protocols in Nursing, Counseling, Child Study Team, and other non-instructional indoor environments
  • Calibrating existing Counseling and other support benchmarks to multiple operating scenarios
  • Developing remote and in-person protocols for evaluation, support, and other needs of special education and 504 Plan students
  • Developing and implementing isolation protocols for staff and students who are ill
  • Facilitate temperature checks and symptom monitoring
  • Develop and implement operational protocols for accepting visitors, using lavatories, and student movement
  • Implement revised scheduling
  • Coordinate communications with staff, students, and the community
  • Ensure appropriate application and necessary revision of attendance, discipline, and other policies and regulations

Planning in this area will, by necessity, interact deeply with planning in all of the other areas. While Facilities planning represents the environmental backdrop against which our work proceeds, Counseling/Operations represents the landscape of our rules, regulations, and support practices.

Wellness Planning

Wellness work toward our strategic planning priorities must continue, while it contends with the complicated results of interruption and volatility. Planning in this area across our three scenarios in fulfillment of our four principles involves:

  • Coordination of in-person and remote wellness programs
  • Coordination of student-led wellness projects
  • Planning and implementing extracurricular activities
  • Providing appropriate emergency response and intervention
  • Coordination of wellness partnerships

Wellness work must continue to ensure that flexibility remains a focus of our approach to this calamity. We must also stay abreast of lessons learned throughout our profession on the most effective ways to ensure wellness of staff and students during times of crisis like these.

Equity Planning

Equity does not represent a separate area of planning so much as a lens through which we must see all other planning. We must continue to commit to reducing barriers to opportunity for all of our students. Planning in this area across our three scenarios in fulfillment of our four principles involves:

  • Facilitation of appropriate climate and culture measurement
  • Facilitation of equity and justice projects in curricula and in extracurricular activities
  • Analysis of, and intervention in Counseling, achievement, opportunity, discipline, and attendance gaps
  • Ensuring access to remote instruction, nutrition services, and other resources
  • Providing resources for appropriate and respectful social media and other community conversations

Work in this area is not just a response to national conversations about justice, or to the realization of different experiences of the pandemic (and schooling during the pandemic). Even if such conditions and crises make this work more urgent or poignant, it is the necessary work that is already on our agenda through our strategic plan.

Return to the Table of Contents for Section 1.

Return to the Main Contents and Summary Section.


SCHEDULING MODELS IN THE HYBRID SCENARIO:


Cohorting and Remote Instruction as Tools to Mitigate Risk

“Hybrid” originally was intended to describe a mix between in-person and remote instruction. However, in schools across New Jersey, hybrid models are also considering different cohorts or “shifts” of students each day. Both of these tools--cohorting of students and remote instruction--provide opportunities to mitigate risk in a pandemic environment. As risk increases across both tools, we can expect a higher degree of chronic staff and student absence due to health concerns and reservations, requiring more tools to provide remote working and learning opportunities.


Easing In and Ramping Up

We believe that we make a mistake if we view scheduling for September as a question with a single answer. As noted, we must be ready to pivot in response to changing public health situations. This does not only mean “ready to shut down” in the event of a worsening situation with the virus, but also means ultimately ready return to normal operations.

We can view our September opening as landing within one of several different requirements for restrictions as we fulfill our four reopening principles in response to public health conditions.


Our work with the New Jersey Department of Health is focusing primarily on new cases, rate of transmission, and metrics of hospital/public health capacity to determine public health risk.

In arranging cohorting and remote instruction in a hybrid model, we can imagine different options moving through different scenarios over time, assuming an improvement in the pandemic.


Bell Schedules

We can utilize different bell and class schedules in different models. One of the goals of any modified bell or class schedule is to be able to transition to any of the different hybrid models and ultimately to normal operations. Some scheduling options are summarized below.

Potential Option for One Third of Students:

Social distancing and other public health concerns require maximum restriction and reduction of crowding. Students would come to school in three shifts: Group 1, Group 2, and Group 3. We would be able to achieve 6 feet of distance in most classes. These students would travel through the A/B schedule, with days built in for deep facilities cleaning. This schedule maximizes remote instruction. An example two weeks appear below.


In an early dismissal, students on campus would follow a traditional early dismissal bell schedule and would spend the rest of the day at home completing remote instruction. If we are able to bring students in for the full day, we may follow a modified bell schedule to break unit lunch into several shifts in an effort to reduce crowding.

Potential Option for 50% of Students:

Social distancing and other public health concerns require medium restriction and reduction of crowding, but conditions allow us to have more students on campus. We would not be able to achieve 6 feet of distance in most classes, and would need to mitigate that risk through additional restrictions through our four reopening principles (one-way hallways and stairwells, early dismissal, etc.). Students would come to school in two shifts: Group 1 and Group 2. These students would travel through the A/B schedule, with days built in for deep facilities cleaning. This schedule still utilizes remote instruction, but balances it with in-person instruction. An example two weeks appear below.


In an early dismissal, students on campus would follow a traditional early dismissal bell schedule and would spend the rest of the day at home completing remote instruction. If we are able to bring students in for the full day, we would follow a modified bell schedule to break unit lunch into several shifts in an effort to reduce crowding.

Return to the Table of Contents for Section 1.

Return to the Main Contents and Summary Section.


Our Planning Process:

A Staged Approach

Planning for reopening began with study of New Jersey’s Guidance, and guidance from many other states, to determine overarching goals and principles. We also utilized this guidance to identify frequently-cited tools and strategies. Section I details these principles, goals, and frameworks.

The guiding thought for our planning is:

We are prioritizing safety and equity, and working with partners across multiple domains of expertise, to bring our students back to campus.

Planning continued with consultation with various community agencies and experts, and with analyses of structural capacity to determine the landscape of social distancing across our campus and our educational and wellness programs.

All of this resulted in the identification of several scenarios for reopening, with different scheduling and cohorting models. We communicated and sought feedback on these models throughout the first half of the summer, through focus groups and surveys.

Planning continued with the identification of staff working groups in each of our framework areas: Facilities, Instructional, Counseling/Operations, Wellness, and Equity. Our Board of Education also rostered an ad hoc reopening committee to remain apprised of and provide feedback into planning.

Dr. Jeffrey Moore provided updates on reopening planning through various community communications, and in public presentations at virtual Board of Education meetings in June and July.

A draft plan will serve as the basis for offering virtual town halls for parents, students, and other community members. These will continue, and will also lead to ongoing combined working groups of parents, staff, students and other stakeholders to report to and offer sounding board opportunities for our Pandemic Response Team throughout the 2020-2021 school year.


Return to the Table of Contents for Section 1.

Return to the Main Contents and Summary Section.


The Hybrid:


Hybrid Schedule

Hunterdon Central will begin the 2020-2021 school year at reduced capacity, and on an early dismissal schedule. Half of our students (Group 1) will come to school on Monday and Tuesday of each week, while the other half of our students (Group 2) will be engaged in remote learning. All students will participate in remote learning on Wednesday of each week. Group 2 will come to school on Thursday and Friday of each week for in-person learning, while Group 1 will be engaged in remote learning.

A Day courses will take place on the first of the two in-person days for each group, while B Day courses will take place on the second of the two days. For example, Group 1 will come to school on Monday to move through their A Day blocks, and will move through their B Day blocks on Tuesday. Group 2 will have their A Day on Thursday, and their B Day on Friday.

We will split students primarily by alphabet to ensure that siblings will be on the same schedule. Specific situations (e.g., vocational enrollment, course balancing, etc.) may require us to assign students to the other group. We will also offer flexibility, as balancing allows, in the event that scheduling into the other group would be more optimal for families. The exact group assignments will be communicated at a later date, as schedule balancing proceeds.

Students in some specialized programs may require additional time on campus, and may attend more than two days each week. We will work with parents of students in those programs to develop schedules for in-person instruction.

We will utilize our existing early dismissal bell schedule, though we may find it necessary to adjust this schedule to accommodate staggered block dismissals and/or one-way hallways and stairwells as steps to mitigate mixing and crowding.


Students will return home after Block 4, and will resume the school day in remote instruction until the end of the full school day at 2:03PM. Remote tutorial sessions will continue after dismissal until 2:50PM on specific days.

We will continue to develop scheduling for each Wednesday, and may also reserve portions of that day for teacher collaboration, work with students who opt for a full remote schedule, and more. In the event of a shortened week, we will remove this fully remote day from the schedule for that week.

Through this schedule, Hunterdon Central will meet requirements to offer in-person instruction and provide public school facilities. Students who opt to remain in our in-person schedule will receive eight hours of in-person instruction each week, with access to all of their scheduled classes and teachers. All students, regardless of whether they are in-person or remote, will participate in at least 5 hours of total instruction per day.

The bell schedule does not include a lunch period. Lunch presents insurmountable challenges in distancing and other restrictions, even with only half of our students present.

Shared-time students of the Hunterdon County Vocational School District will receive schedules that place all of their vocational classes on the same day. For example, a Group 1 student might attend their vocational classes all day on Tuesday. There would therefore be no mid-day bus run to vocational course locations.

We are working to adjust our fall calendar to incorporate additional and necessary time for staff collaboration, planning, and calibration to improve in skills for remote instruction, to prioritize relationship building with students, and to continue efforts to focus curriculum . In cooperation with the Hunterdon Central Education Association, we are working to move scheduled professional development days from later in the school year to the beginning of the school year. This will not change the total number of days in the school year or the date of the last day of school, but will push the first day of school for students from September 3 to September 8 or September 9. We will announce calendar adjustments as soon as they are finalized.

In Defense of Balance and Blend

Reopening planning is a complicated exercise in the balance and blend of risk, and tools to mitigate risk, toward the fulfillment of our four reopening principles and our goals. Though our four reopening principles represent imperatives in public health, we have priorities in completing our state-mandated curriculum and in advancing social and emotional wellness.

The United States Centers for Disease Control continues to recognize fully remote learning as representing the least risk for students, from a public health perspective. Through our planning domains, we seek to mitigate public health risks in order to maximize our work toward all of our goals.

The hybrid model represents a conservative approach, in recognition of the fact that New Jersey’s progress in battling COVID-19 has been achieved with none of the state’s over 1.4 million students in school. Hunterdon County has over 18,000 K-12 students. Over 2,700 of these attend Hunterdon Central. We recognize the need to bring students back to school, but also the need to learn the implications of such a large indoor gathering, occurring at a scale unmatched since the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis, on the spread of the disease.

Science has offered some indications, but not yet conclusive proof, that the gathering of younger children does not represent a public health concern. However, there is some research to suggest that older children do present a heightened risk for community spread.

At half attendance, we do not achieve social distancing of 6’ in every space occupied by staff and students. However, we are able to mitigate risk through additional steps, including masking. We believe that this level of attendance represents an optimal blend of concerns over and tools to address risk in public health, given current conditions in our county and state, while giving equal regard to educational and social/emotional goals for our children.

Gatekeeping Metrics

In Section 1, we describe various scenarios for a hybrid schedule. We hope that we can grow from half attendance and early dismissal toward more normal operations, through prudent steps to add more students and/or more time. We are currently working with the New Jersey Department of Health and others to determine threshold levels in metrics such as numbers of new cases and rate of transmission (sometimes called “R-naught”, “Rt”, or “R0”) to guide our movement through those phases.

Return to the Table of Contents for Section 2.

Return to the Main Contents and Summary Section.


Facilities, Nutrition Services, and Transportation:

Facilities

Many of the tools we have to mitigate risks exist in our approach to facilities management. We will take steps across multiple facets of facilities management to enhance the safety of staff, students, and community during the remainder of the COVID-19 crisis.

Hunterdon Central has purchased additional cleaning equipment, including electrostatic spray cleaners and hydroxyl generators in an effort to increase sanitization efforts. Disinfection and cleaning of high-touch surfaces throughout all classroom, hallway, office, and other spaces will take place each day and evening. We will adjust custodial shifts to provide additional capability for sanitization throughout the school day, especially in lavatories. Each Wednesday, additional deep cleaning will occur between shifts of groups of students in our hybrid model.

In each classroom, we will identify desks to be used by each successive class of students, so as to avoid common surfaces and to reduce the need for cleaning each desk between each class block. Where we are unable to effect this arrangement, sanitizing wipes and/or sanitizing spray will be available for students to wipe work areas after each use.

In classrooms, we are arranging furniture to ensure appropriate social distancing. We are also arranging furniture in large spaces such as cafeterias, our Commons, and other areas to provide additional spaces for students to gather, in the event that we need to vacate a classroom for any reason, and to provide for study hall and other scheduling situations.

We have purchased large numbers of plexiglass barriers in different configurations to use in work areas that require closer person-to-person contact, and/or to add additional mitigation to concerns about distancing.

Classrooms and many other spaces are all equipped with hand sanitizing gel dispensers. We are also replacing air dryers in lavatories with paper towel dispensers to reduce the chance of aerosol spread.

Work practice controls for staff include the reduction of common and high-touch surfaces--from water coolers and coffee pots to office equipment and supplies. Where we cannot eliminate shared equipment (e.g., a photocopy machine, piano keyboard, etc.), we will provide sanitizing wipes and/or sanitizing spray to ensure cleanliness and sterilization.

Hunterdon Central’s HVAC controls always allow for adjustment of air exchange, providing for more frequent replacement of indoor air with fresh air from outside the building. We will also open windows and internal doors to increase airflow, with all due security considerations. Increased air exchange and open windows create additional humidity and condensation, with the potential for fungal growth. We will regularly monitor and adjust to ensure the appropriate balance. Venting will also be adjusted where possible to reduce direct airflow on surfaces, in an effort to reduce aerosol spread of infection.

We will encourage staff to hold classes, meetings, and other activities outdoors when weather permits, and in larger indoor spaces. We are increasing outdoor seating to accommodate more outdoor activities.

We are not currently able to consider UV light treatment of air, or higher MERV level filtration. Cost and effort preclude these tools at this time. We realize many benefits through our existing HVAC controls, and face many public health risks that sit outside of the reach of such mitigations.

Outside Use

The support of our reopening for in-person instruction, even at a limited level, requires significant increase in time, effort, and resources in the maintenance and sanitation of our facilities. We must therefore limit the use of our facilities to those functions sponsored by the school until further notice. Outside users, including booster clubs, will not be able to reserve our facilities. We take this necessary step with sadness, and with a recognition of the important role that our facilities play to many community partners. This limit will be in place until further notice.

Nutrition Services

Hunterdon Central will run an early dismissal schedule with no lunch block at the opening of school in September, and will remain on that schedule as long as social distancing guidelines stipulate 6’ between individuals who are not masked. Sanitation and other concerns preclude us from utilizing classroom spaces for lunch, even at half capacity attendance.

We will offer nutrition services to students in grab-and-go format on dismissal, and/or at locations throughout the community, as required by law and by state and federal regulations. Grab-and-go meals will be available to students for on-campus days, with the option to pre-order meals to take home for remote learning days. This service will be available for all students, regardless of free and reduced meal eligibility. Grab-and-go breakfast items will also be available to students and staff who are on campus, as social distancing permits. Lunches for staff will also be available for purchase in a to-be-determined format.

In the event that we are able to offer a lunch block, we will offer it in a split format rather than through a unit lunch. We will develop such scheduling of lunch in accordance with public health restrictions in place at the time.

Transportation

All students and drivers will be required to wear a mask or, in the event of a documented medical concern that precludes a mask, a transparent face shield while on a bus or in any district vehicle. Families will need to provide masks and face shields for their children, though disposable masks will be available in the event of a lost, broken, or otherwise nonfunctional face covering as long as supplies last. In selecting and using a face covering, we refer parents and students to Guidance from the Centers for Disease Control.

We will notify parents immediately of any refusal to wear a mask or appropriate face covering. If we are unable to reach a resolution resulting in the student wearing an appropriate face covering on each day of bus transportation, the student will take part in fully remote rather than in-person instruction.

We will screen all drivers and other personnel riding buses for elevated temperature and other symptoms prior to the first bus run each day. Supplemental drivers will be on standby to promptly fill in for any driver sidelined as a result of symptoms. Please consult Information on Covid Symptoms from the Centers for Disease Control.

We will equip each bus with a hand-sanitizing gel dispenser, and a transparent curtain around each driver. While in transit, the bus’ windows will remain open to increase airflow as weather and other conditions permit.

Our reduced attendance will allow for additional spacing on buses. Riders should maintain 6’ of distance from other riders whenever possible. We may assign seating on buses to ensure appropriate distancing. Buses will board from the back to the front, and exit from the front to the back as often as possible to limit contact in the aisle.

Transportation staff will sanitize buses multiple times each day, following a sanitation checklist that details a two-step sanitation process (cleaning and disinfection). We have purchased backpack electrostatic spray cleaners for deep sanitation of buses each night.

For opening in September, we will not be able to offer subscription busing to those families who live inside of our busing limits, and who pay separately to reserve a seat on one of our buses. We will regularly revisit our ability to offer subscription busing based on transportation utilization, and will notify parents of any opportunity.

Return to the Table of Contents for Section 2.

Return to the Main Contents and Summary Section.


Instructional:

An Important Lesson Learned

We learned many lessons from our experience with remote instruction in the spring of the 2019-2020 school year. Chief among these is the need to strike a balance between flexibility and accountability for students. The flexibility that we afforded students to work at their own pace in the spring was the single-most popular feature of our approach among students and parents we surveyed at the end of the school year. However, students and parents also reported difficulties in focusing student work to be as productive as possible. Teachers observed this as well, with many reporting that they believe it negatively impacted the engagement of some students throughout the closure period.

Answering the Challenge of the Hybrid Model

Any hybrid model must contend with the danger of a loss in the pace of instruction. With one group of students arriving in-person on Monday and Tuesday, and the other group arriving on Thursday and Friday, we can imagine in-person lessons repeated across the two groups, effectively slowing the pace of instruction to a crawl.

Hunterdon Central teachers will ensure that students who are in the room and at home are at the same place in the curriculum, and moving forward at the same pace. Teachers must also ensure that they are on schedule in the curriculum, compared to any more “normal” mode of operation. Professional development and collaboration will focus, in part, on sharing best and innovative practices for achieving this parity and pace. We will promote innovation in this regard, with flexibility for teachers to develop approaches with efficacy in each content area, rather than mandate any specific approach. Strategies may include but are certainly not limited to:

  • Live broadcasting of in-person activities to students who are in a remote location, effectively combining in-person and remote students into the same activity at the same time
  • Utilizing in-person class time to support students in progress toward individualized or small-group goals in a project-based or other more authentic and flexible pedagogy
  • Developing in-person and remote activities for any given week in such a way that both groups of students may approach them in opposite sequences while still achieving the same goals on the same pace
  • Pooling teacher efforts across different sections of the same course to offer online webinar-style lectures and demonstrations to all students of the course at set times, perhaps by reserving various days for each content area so as to avoid double-scheduling

We will continue to utilize Zoom and the Google Apps for Education suite (which includes Google Meet, Google Classroom, Google Drive, Google Docs, and more) for management of student work in a hybrid environment, but will support teacher innovation in other tools as well.

Focus in Curriculum

Summer curriculum writing is continuing work begun in the spring to identify critical paths in each course, and areas of optional and deeper specialization that students can approach individually. This will ensure that all students are prepared for following courses in each discipline, and will drastically reduce concerns about learning gaps as a result of disengagement or other difficulties in remote instruction.

With this focus comes the identification of “power standards” in each course, or specific and measurable items of content of skill. We are working to further develop benchmark and diagnostic assessments, deliverable in an online format and yielding data that is at teachers’ fingertips. With these assessment data, teachers will be in a much better position to work with students on individualized weaknesses, both during remote instruction and during more normal times. Educators are also working in departments to expand the implementation of common assessments across different sections of the same course, in order to provide level assessment of standards.

We will also continue to encourage hands-on assessment of learning through projects that can take advantage of the remote setting. There is opportunity in moving education outside of the four classroom walls--opportunity to engage students in service and other authentic work.

Support and Tutorial

Hunterdon Central has a long history of effective and innovative practice in supporting students who need academic help. Our hybrid schedule will continue to offer tutorial sessions for students. Through flexible scheduling of remote sessions after student dismissal from in-person instruction, and through our fully remote day each Wednesday, we will also be able to provide teachers and students more flexibility to connect on individualized concerns.

We are also working to develop additional bridge programming. Such programs are designed to help students transition from one course to another, and can occur alongside any course, during breaks from the calendar, or even over the summer. Students enrolled in a bridge program may receive help on specific skills over which they struggle, or receive more generalized help to grow across a standard array of skills.

Relationship-Building

The closure of last spring benefited from timing, in that teachers and students had already formed strong relationships. Starting the year with some amount of remote instruction, and facing the possibility of larger-scale remote instruction for certain students who opt for it, or for all students in response to public health conditions, requires more deliberate and focused work on fostering relationships.

Teacher collaboration and training will continue to focus on relationship-building through tools in the Nurtured Heart model, and in Zones of Regulation and related frameworks. The district has realized measurable improvements in school climate and culture through these models, and is committed to advancing that work in classrooms.

Stress-reduction and trauma-informed techniques will also continue to fill out the teacher’s toolbox. Work on developing and offering stress-reducing “brain breaks,” conducting regular and individualized check-ins, and more will help teachers continue to ensure that student wellness remains a focus in every curriculum, reminding all that we teach students first, and courses second.

Professional Development for Teachers

Staff professional development will focus, in part, on continued growth and innovation in the use of remote learning technologies. We believe that this is not just an answer to our current challenge, but also addresses needs for flexibility in more normal times. It will also continue to prepare us for the possibility of returning to full-time remote instructions for all students, in the event that it becomes necessary to make that shift.

Consistency across sections of the same course will also be a focus for professional development. Sharing of innovations between teachers, common work across sections, courses, and even departments can provide more access to teacher expertise, freed from the boundaries of a set time schedule and the capacity of a single classroom.

Professional development will also address diversity and inclusion, equity, and social/emotional learning. Professional development on these topics has already occurred through the spring and early summer, and will continue through the summer and the 2020-2021 school year.

Support for Parents

This past spring, we learned that parents needed more insight into the technology tools that we use with students, particularly Google Classroom. We will offer more training and orientation for parents in our technology platform in order to assist them in efforts to help students structure and stay engaged in their work.

Increased but easier to navigate communications to parents is another goal of our efforts to work in partnership in support of student learning. We are working to identify solutions for streamlining communications from teachers to students and parents, in order to reduce the demoralization and disengagement that arises from inbox fatigue.

Information Technology Support

During the spring closure, our Information Technology Department was focused on supplying internet access to students who lacked such access at home, as well as supporting staff and students in the use of district-issued Chromebooks and laptops. This work will continue, with the support of a newly-installed and more robust help ticket system.

Information Technology will also focus on auditing and improving security throughout the school’s technology offerings, and providing more opportunities for remote access to district systems.

The Information Technology Department will also convene a steering group to effect continued alignment to our strategic planning priorities. This group will develop strategic planning and project management protocols that will ensure our technology work is doing all that it can to advance our district goals.

Return to the Table of Contents for Section 2.

Return to the Main Contents and Summary Section.


Counseling and Operations:

From Counseling to Health Services, with Many Stops in Between

Operational and non-educational considerations offer significant tools for mitigating public health risk, while achieving educational and social/emotional goals. Work in this planning area includes masking, exclusion and quarantine, student movement across campus, and much more.

Masking

All students and staff will be required to wear a mask or, in the event of a documented medical concern that precludes a mask, a transparent face shield or other appropriate face covering at all times while on campus, at bus stops where there are multiple individuals, and on district transportation. Families will need to provide masks and other identified face coverings for their children, and staff members will need to provide their own masks and face coverings, though disposable masks will be available in the event of a lost, broken, or otherwise nonfunctional face covering as long as supplies last. In selecting and using a face covering, we refer parents, students, and staff to guidance from the Centers for Disease Control.

We are consulting with experts on, and will communicate procedures for, appropriate and safe mask-free times and areas, if they are feasible.

We will notify parents immediately of any incident of student refusal to wear a mask or other appropriate face covering. If we are unable to reach a resolution resulting in the student wearing an appropriate face covering on each day of in-person instruction, the student will take part in fully remote rather than in-person instruction.

We recognize that students may wish to wear personalized or otherwise decorated face masks as a measure of self expression. Hunterdon Central’s dress code applies to face masks in forbidding certain kinds of images, phrases, and other potentially offensive, violent, illegal, or otherwise disruptive imagery or text. Please refer to our Student Dress Code for more information.

Hallways and Passing Time

We will limit some hallways and stairwells to one-way movement, and enforce stricter right-side-only movement in two-way hallways and stairwells, as strategies to reduce mixing and crowding. Toward the same ends, we may also stagger dismissal from classes during passing time, and or limit movement through certain exits to outdoor portions of campus.

Floor and wall decals, and/or other signage, will communicate any reduction of a hallway or stairwell to one-way movement, and reminders to remain on the right-hand side of any two-way hallway or stairwell.

Symptom and Temperature Checks

Broad-scale symptom checking can be effective in understanding and mitigating disease spread, but is also very difficult to effect. We are exploring the implementation of a daily “Symptom-free Assurance” to be filed electronically by parents and staff members, indicating the following:

  • The student or staff member is not currently experiencing, and has not recently experienced, any acute respiratory illness symptoms such as fever, cough, or shortness of breath.
  • The student or staff member has not been in close contact with any persons who have been confirmed positive for COVID-19 in the prior two weeks.
  • The student or staff member has not been in close contact with any persons who are currently or have been exhibiting acute respiratory illness symptoms in the past two weeks.
  • The student has not recently traveled to a state identified by New Jersey as “an impacted state” or any other region with a high prevalence of cases of COVID-19.

A student or staff member should not report to school if any of these items is false.

A student for whom we do not receive a form may be excluded from in-person instruction until we can verify symptom-free status, and/or may be required to undergo a temperature check and examination by a School Nurse for symptoms.

Parental participation in any Symptom-free Assurance will be of critical importance, not only to protect our community but also to ensure full access to in-person instruction without any delay or interruption.

Student Attendance and Exclusion

New Jersey state law governs student attendance at school, specifying the nature of excused and unexcused absences. We are required to follow all laws and regulation on attendance, and have little flexibility. As always, we will examine each case of potential loss of credit due to absence, providing any flexibility we can to ensure continued credit status. Please review our attendance policy and regulation for more information.

We will continue to review our attendance policy and regulation to ensure that we are offering all appropriate flexibility in response to the pandemic. We stand ready to work with families if they have questions or concerns. No student should feel pressure to come to school with symptoms of COVID-19 or any other illness. Please refer to this web page from the Centers for Disease Control for information on symptoms of COVID-19. We encourage parents and students with any questions about attendance, especially if you receive a communication indicating an attendance concern, to contact the appropriate Vice Principal.

When students are at home and able to participate in remote instruction--e.g., working remotely on Wednesdays or on days when their group is not on campus for in-person instruction, under quarantine but healthy, exercising a remote learning option, removed to remote instruction for failure to wear a mask, or any other reason--they will be considered present as long as they attend all required remote meetings and other events. Teachers will take attendance of both in-person and remote students for such meetings and events.

The New Jersey Department of Health has outlined exclusion protocols, which appear below with instructions for participation in remote learning.


In the event of a suspected positive case, we will isolate the student in a comfortable space, awaiting parent pickup. We will report suspected positive cases to the Department of Health, and follow all recommendations that the Department offers in the handling of such cases.

Staff Attendance & Accommodation

All staff roles are essential to supporting the in-person instruction that the State of New Jersey has required of all schools, even at reduced student capacity and on an early dismissal schedule. We require all staff members to work on campus during contractual working hours on every in-person instruction day during the school year, excepting those staff members for whom remote work may be a necessary accommodation to address health, child care, and other eligible concerns as outlined in the Americans with Disabilities Act, the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, collective bargaining agreements, and other relevant rules and contracts. Likewise, under each of these imperatives, Hunterdon Central will work to provide any other reasonable accommodation. Staff members who need to discuss remote work or any other accommodations should contact Shunda Williams in the Human Resources Department.

Contact Tracing and Quarantine

We are legally required by the New Jersey Department of Health to report occurrences of communicable diseases. In any situation in which there are concerns for the exposure of staff members, students, or other members of the community, we will seek guidance from the Department of Health, and will follow all notification and contact tracing requirements. In this work, we may also be required to share contact and other personal information with the Department of Health and the Department of Education, and may be required to maintain documents and records of staff member and student reports of COVID-19 exposure, COVID-19 test results, and more.

The Department of Health, through contact tracing, will determine the need for any individual to quarantine. We will cooperate in communication with the Department of Health and enforcement of all quarantine orders. Please see “Student Attendance and Exclusion” above for more information.

School Closure

The presence of a positive or suspected case of COVID-19 in our school may result in the short-term closure of campus to in-person activities, placing all students and staff on full remote learning and work. The Department of Health, for example, may recommend closure of campus for several days in order to complete contact tracing to reach an understanding of the extent of any necessary quarantine. It is important to note that such closure is not a concern that the campus is infected and therefore uninhabitable, but rather more likely a requirement to ensure that the potential spread of the virus through exposure of individuals is fully understood through contact tracing protocols.

We will work and cooperate with the Department of Health in any decision to close school in response to the presence of a positive or suspected case, or any other public health situation. Please see Guidance from the Centers for Disease Control on school responses to positive cases.

We may also face the need to close campus in response to large numbers of staff under a quarantine order or absent for other reasons. If this occurs, we may utilize emergency days built into our calendar, and traditionally reserved for inclement weather, if we are not approved to move to full remote instruction. If we exhaust emergency days, we will draw on holidays and breaks to ensure that we fulfill the state requirement for 180 days of school. Please see our Calendar for more information. In the event of an emergency day, all school operations will be closed and there will be no remote learning on the affected day(s). We will adjust the week’s schedule, and communicate any changes to the scheduling of remote learning or in-person school days.

Deteriorating public health conditions, executive orders, and other situations may result in longer-term closure, with the entire program moving to remote learning. If that occurs, we will communicate as quickly as possible as we transition to full scale, full time remote learning for all students.

Arrival Procedures for Visitors

Visitors may only enter and exit campus through the 9/10 or 11/12 main entrances, or elsewhere as identified. Visitors must register with the Security Receptionist on duty. Visitors must have an appointment, except in the case of an emergency.

Security Receptionists will enforce social distancing at entry locations. If the atrium is too crowded to observe distancing, Security Receptionists may require individuals to wait outside, and instruct them to observe distancing as they wait to enter the building.

Security Receptionists will require all visitors to answer the following questions, which will be posted in English and Spanish in the atrium:

  • Are you currently experiencing, or have you recently experienced, any acute respiratory illness symptoms such as fever, cough, or shortness of breath?
  • Have you been in close contact with any persons who have been confirmed positive for COVID-19 in the past two weeks?
  • Have you been in close contact with any persons who are exhibiting acute respiratory illness symptoms in the past two weeks?
  • Have you recently traveled to a state identified by New Jersey as “an impacted state,” or any other region with a high prevalence of cases of COVID-19?

Security Receptionists will also conduct temperature checks of all visitors with a touch-free thermometer.

Any visitor who answers “yes” to any of those questions or refuses to answer any question, or who registers a temperature of 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit or higher or refuses to submit to a temperature check, will have to leave campus.

Visitors are required to wear a mask or, in the case of a health condition that precludes masking, a transparent face shield or other appropriate face covering. Visitors will supply their own mask or appropriate face covering. However, disposable masks will be available in the event of a lost, broken, or otherwise nonfunctional face covering as long as supplies last. In selecting and using a face covering, we refer visitors to Guidance from the Centers for Disease Control.

If the visitor is able to proceed, the Security Receptionist will call a staff member from the destination office to meet the visitor in the atrium. The Security Receptionist may require visitors to wash their hands in the nearest lavatory facility or utilize hand sanitizing gel before proceeding into campus.

Visitors must be escorted by a staff member from the destination office at all times while on campus, from arrival to departure.

Arrival Procedures for Students

Students will receive directions upon arrival in district transportation.

In an effort to further reduce potential crowding on district buses, we will expand parking privileges during the implementation of our hybrid scenario, first to all 12th graders who are licensed to drive and then to 11th graders who have reached the age of 17 by August and who are licensed to drive as of the start of the school year. We will communicate procedures for all potential new parking candidates as we near the opening of the school year. We will continue to disqualify students from parking for certain discipline violations, and other situations as outlined in the Class of 2021 Parking Information.

Movement from a hybrid scenario to a scenario in which all students are able to come to school on any given day will trigger an adjustment to the parking privilege, and a return to our normal procedures and limitations for that privilege. In such a situation, 11th and 12th graders who receive a parking spot in the expanded parking model of our hybrid scenario may need to surrender that spot.

Arrival Procedures for Staff

Staff will receive arrival procedures from their supervisor/manager. Staff arrival procedures may involve temperature checks, limited entrances and exits, or other restrictions and procedures, including but not limited to those outlined for students and visitors, above.

Drills

Schools in New Jersey are required to perform monthly fire and other security drills. We will abide by all requirements, and will utilize all flexibilities, to ensure safe and orderly drills with appropriate social distancing. Please contact our School Safety Specialist, Vice Principal Scot Ebner at (908) 284-7152 or scot.ebner@hschr.org, with any questions about security and other drills.

Lavatory Use

We will implement procedures for limiting lavatory use as necessary to reduce crowding and mixing and to assist in increased sanitization of facilities. This may include limiting the number of students in each lavatory, reducing the number of available lavatories, limiting lavatory use to specific times of day, and other measures.

Lavatory restrictions may also apply to lavatories in Health Offices and other locations. We will identify gender-neutral lavatories for students. We will also designate lavatories for emergency, staff, and other uses.

Staff members on duty at a student lavatory will utilize a touchless scanning technology to log students into the lavatory. Staff members will enforce social distancing, communicated through floor and/or other markers, in any lines for lavatory use.

The Pandemic Response Team

Daily and longer-term responses to the pandemic will flow through the School Pandemic Response Team. Each school in New Jersey is advised to roster a Pandemic Response Team, through the New Jersey Department of Education’s Reopening Guidance.

The Pandemic Response Team will meet regularly under the direction of the Principal to review progress on and adjust reopening projects, particularly in the area of Counseling and Operations.

with representation from various stakeholder groups as outlined in the New Jersey Department of Education’s reopening guidance. The Pandemic Response Team may also coordinate liaising with public health and other agencies, as well as provide frequent communications to staff, students, parents, and the broader school community.

The Pandemic Response team will also coordinate the posting of signage, including reminders of proper hygiene, public health hazards, and other items. The team will work with the Office of Communications and with Health Services to provide messaging to parents and the community through the district’s communications platform.

Counseling Services

Counseling Services will continue to offer all college, career, and social/emotional supports to students. The department will adjust its curriculum to focus on smaller group and individual supports, rather than larger-scale gatherings. Any required larger-scale gatherings will take place in a webinar or other remote format.

We are in the process of contracting for full-time wrap-around counseling support. Our wrap-around counseling will provide more therapeutic and case management services to families of students who are in danger of harming themselves or others. In combination with grade level Counselors, Student Assistance Counselors, and School-based Therapists from Hunterdon Behavioral Health, wrap-around counseling resources will put us in an even stronger position to support student social and emotional well-being.

Counseling Services will implement additional safety protocols for meetings with students, such as the utilization of touchless scanning for logging visits, the utilization of plexiglass barriers and other means to protect staff and students during meetings, and the availability of sanitizing hand gel and wipes in School Counselor suites.

Counseling Services will continue to track all interactions with students in order to identify service gaps, trends in student needs, and other trends that may impact the delivery of support services to students.

Health and Nursing Services

We are in the process of developing appropriate triage and isolation spaces for suspected positive cases among our student body. All School Nurses will receive appropriate personal protective equipment, which may include N95 masks and other equipment for working with suspected or verified cases.

School Nurses will remain in contact with the Department of Health and with the District Physician in the design of their working space, and the conduct of their work in that space. School Nurses will follow all protocols delivered by the Department of Health, with the understanding that those protocols may differ from those in outpatient and other settings in which nurses operate.

School Nurses may provide services in multiple locations on campus, including in their existing offices. Students with health issues may be directed to one or another of these locations, depending upon the nature of their concern.

We engage in a contracted service in which we share nursing services to Hunterdon County Vocational School District. In the event of a suspected case at the vocational school, a member of our nursing staff will report to the vocational campus, to their isolation and nursing station, to respond to the case.

Personal Hygiene

Distancing and masking work together with personal hygiene at effective weapons against the spread of COVID-19. These three tools are also similar in the sense that they require significant personal accountability. Our reopening requires masking and distancing, but relies on staff and students to work toward that common goal for the health and safety of our entire community. The same is true of personal hygiene.

Students and staff must wash their hands or, when hand washing is not feasible, apply hand sanitizing gel frequently, at a minimum upon entering the building, every time they enter a different classroom or workspace, before and after eating, and prior to dismissal. We will post signage on the proper handwashing techniques in all lavatories. Hand sanitizing gel will be provided by the district as long as supplies last. All hand sanitizing gel must contain at least 60% alcohol.

The United States Centers for Disease Control recommends additional personal hygiene precautions, including but not limited to covering coughs and sneezes, and refraining from touching your eyes, nose, and mouth. We will place signage throughout campus reminding of these and other precautions, in both English and Spanish. Please the Centers for Disease Control Website for more information.

Return to the Table of Contents for Section 2.

Return to the Main Contents and Summary Section.


Wellness:

Continuing Our Focus on Relationships and Wellness

We have made great progress in wellness work for staff and students, both through projects outlined in our strategic plan and through other projects. Chief among these are training in relationship-building and regulation through the Nurtured Heart and Zones of Regulation models, and empowering students to engage in wellness projects of their design on campus and in the community.

Relationship-Building

Central’s culture has improved tremendously as our work on the Nurtured Heart and other models has progressed, as shown through two administrations of the New Jersey School Climate Survey. This training will continue in 2020-2021 at the same pace, despite the potential disruption of a hybrid schedule, or the potential for additional disruptions. This past spring, parent academies in Nurtured Heart continued in a virtual format, and video resources and training were available to staff, students, and parents through our YouTube channel. We are currently working to contract with a partner to carry on our work with staff, students, families, and more.

We have also identified the need for a focus on relationship-building in September, as we help students through the complicated impacts of last spring’s interruption and deal with the continued interruption that the pandemic is causing, and may yet cause.

Attention will also turn to policy and regulation areas, to ensure that our discipline, attendance, grading, placemement, and other practices are aligned to our wellness goals.

Last school year, we identified the Sources of Strength peer norming program as a target for implementation in our school. The spring closure interrupted plans to implement this program. We are exploring opportunities for implementation in a hybrid or virtual format, as necessary.

Stress-Reduction

Throughout the 2019-2020 school year, teachers were developing a toolbox for stress-reduction classroom tools, such as brain breaks and other activities. That work will continue with partners like Pure Edge and Hunterdon Behavioral Health, as well as through the work of on-staff experts such as our Student Assistance Counselors, and others.

Our work on these tools often begins as stress-reduction work with teachers. This will continue through professional development. We have also increased the number of available consultation sessions and the availability of other tools from our Employee Assistance Program, which is available to all district employees virtually and by phone.

Teachers will also continue to prioritize flexibility in their lesson design, offering options for resubmission and reassessment in an effort to ensure that grading prioritizes growth through authentic activities that recognize the challenges of this time.

We are working on a wellness hub for our website, to collect all of our resources in one place for everyone in our community. As those resources grow in number and format, we have recognized that it has been challenging to find all of them. A wellness hub on our website will serve to index them all.

Wellness Workshops

Prior to closure in the 2019-2020 school year, our Student Wellness Group piloted Wellness Workshops--mini-assemblies during the day, featuring an expert from our community to address a student-generated wellness topic. Over 200 students attended the first of these workshops, and we planned to expand the offering into a full series.

This coming school year, we will work to offer these workshops in a webinar format, and record them to provide opportunities to view them at any time, and to use them in wellness-facing classroom projects. We will continue to rely on our Student Wellness Group to furnish projects and help to contact speakers. We are blessed in our school, both for the passion and advocacy of these students, and for the number of partners in our community who are willing and ready to assist.

Extracurricular Activities

Our school will continue to offer athletics through guidelines established by the NJSIAA, and clubs and activities after school as long as the public health situation and restrictions allow. Athletics has already begun. The latter will move to a virtual format where possible, with all student activities practicing social distancing and observing other public health guidelines.

Additional information about athletics will follow. Fall athletics will likely practice without access to locker and teams rooms, and without the availability of district transportation to and from practices.

Information on large-scale activities such as the Marching Red Devils, Robotics, and others will receive follow as guidelines and guidance for their activities become clearer.

For the 2020-2021 school year, we will suspend our “pay to participate” model, which requires payments from families in order to allow students to take part in athletics and specific clubs and activities. We recognize that the economic impacts of the pandemic have not finished playing out, and that such payments may represent hardships for families. In a larger sense, we note that the administration of this payment process has costs of its own, and also presents a burden to coaches and advisors. Lastly, we realize that this required payment adds complication and difficulty to participation in extracurricular activities, and therefore runs counter to our ideals for student access to these activities.

Student Action

Students sit at the center of all described throughout this and any of our plans--not just as beneficiaries, but as architects of action. In addition to continuing to work with our Student Wellness group, we will also continue to develop opportunities to recognize and empower student leadership in wellness and social justice projects.

In athletics, we will continue to develop the Student Athlete Leadership Team identified in our strategic plan, and will replicate this model of summit-style student leadership representative of different groups in the realm of clubs and activities, including student and class councils. We hope to provide all students with expanded opportunities to participate in service and social justice projects in the school and in the community, regardless of our operating status. This effort represents an evolution of the many, many extracurricular offerings focused on student interest and talent, to pointing those offerings at school-wide initiatives aimed at bettering our community through collaboration and common effort.

Measuring Our Progress

Over the past several years, we have re-administered items from fall climate surveys to different groups for a benchmark measurement of progress. In 2019-2020, however, we felt that the New Jersey School Climate Survey was not sufficient to measure wellness and climate in the very unique circumstance.

We continue to work to identify better measurements of climate and wellness. In the spring of 2020, we deployed several surveys to staff, students, and parents to gauge various aspects of our remote learning implementation. We will develop new survey materials for the fall of 2020 to not only help us gather feedback on our efforts to preserve our program through hybrid and other models, but also to see how our work and the prevailing conditions around it are impacting our school culture.

Environmental Sustainability

Focus on our facilities and campus conditions through our response to the pandemic cannot displace efforts to ensure increased environmental sustainability. Through “Adopt an Area” projects, and through continued work to align to frameworks like Sustainable Jersey for Schools, we will formalize work to beautify our campus while teaching important lessons about responsible stewardship and environmental consciousness.

Return to the Table of Contents for Section 2.

Return to the Main Contents and Summary Section.


Equity:

Different Experiences

Our analyses of survey, attendance, achievement, and other data from the spring of 2020 revealed different experiences of pandemic and closure across our community. We must therefore ensure that we see all of our work through an equity lens. There are specific equity goals in all of the work described above, but also work that is unique to the goal of advancing equity.

Ensuring Access

The district is in a strong position to ensure access to remote instruction through our 1-to-1 Chromebook initiative. Tenth through twelfth graders kept their Chromebooks over the summer. We are developing plans for ninth grade pickup of Chromebooks in August.

This past spring, we surveyed families and reviewed attendance data to target the provision of “hotspot” devices for access to remote instruction. We will continue this effort, and are ready to provide “hotspot” devices to any student who needs help with access, and to continue to monitor engagement and attendance data to target those who develop a need for assistance

Grade level teams of Counselors, Vice Principals, and others will continue to work with teachers to identify and follow up with students who are chronically absent from remote instruction activities. We will continue to leverage partnerships with the Raritan Township Police Department and others to check in on students for whom we have any serious concerns. We will also leverage new wrap-around counseling resources, described in Counseling and Operations above, to effect broader support through case management for families.

Special Populations

We will continue to innovate on the services that we provide to English Language Learners, Special Education students in certain special education programs, school-phobic and other students in certain general education programs, and others. Where video conferencing tools can serve various activities for these students, we will continue to leverage them.

We also recognize that students in some populations will need to be in school for more than our hybrid scenario specifies. Students in certain special and general education programs will be able to attend school for four or even five days a week, rather than as part of a rotating group attending only on certain days. We will work with parents of students in these programs to develop appropriate schedules of in-person instruction.

Masking and other considerations may be inadvisable for students in certain populations and programs for various reasons. We will leverage physical barriers, face shields, clear teacher masks, and other means to ensure that these students have full access to services and programs while on campus.

Full Remote Instruction Option

On July 24, the New Jersey Department of Education released Supplemental Guidance on the Implementation of a Fully Remote Program. We will offer such a program for families on an unconditional basis. Surveying of families will begin in August.

In planning this program, we are prioritizing a goal to integrate these students into existing course sections through our hybrid schedule, rather than create remote-only sections. We do this to ensure that fully remote students have access to a broader range of teachers and peers, and to ensure a smoother transition into full-time or part-time in-person instruction if the situation for any fully remote student, or for our larger community, changes.

In an integrated plan, fully remote students would participate in remote instruction with a class of peers in Group 1 or Group 2 of our hybrid model, take part in any synchronous learning activities through video conferencing that are available, and have access to teachers through specific times scheduled throughout the week.

As we work to integrate New Jersey’s guidance on this kind of program, we will work with families opting for fully remote instruction to develop the program.

Social Justice and Equity

Throughout the spring, we noted the findings of the educational community as it participated in nationwide conversations about social justice and racism. We identified three areas of focus for this work for Hunterdon Central.

First, we know that schools sit in a unique and powerful position in their communities to lead courageous conversations about race, racism, justice, and injustice. We will begin these conversations with our staff, and will engage community and other partners to host these conversations with students and families. In this work, we will also continue to empower student social justice and equity projects in whatever environment or context they arise, whether that be through a club, a class, or individual passion.

Second, we recognize that our curriculum can do more to provide students insights into the experiences of all kinds of people, from all backgrounds. Teachers have begun this work through summer curriculum projects, and will continue that work throughout the 2020-2021 school year.

Finally, we see many structures and policies in all schools that contribute to societal inequity. Attendance, discipline, grading, ranking, placement, leveling, and many other policies can exacerbate inequity by limiting opportunity to grow and participate in all that a comprehensive school like Central offers. We will engage our partner K-8 districts in this work as we collaborate to understand and mitigate equity concerns in our policies and procedures.

Hunterdon Central has enshrined opportunity for all students through our strategic plan, and through our wellness work. We recognize, however, that these efforts cannot truly increase equity unless they value the experience and talents of students from all backgrounds. In this, we move beyond even avowing opportunity for all students, to understanding that each student needs and deserves personalized access to those opportunities. We are not a single school of one spirit, but rather a school of over thirty-five hundred learners, both adolescents and adults, who work together to value each individual’s role in community progress, and in forging true solutions to common problems.

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