Point Beach schools hope for in-person learning this fall

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POINT PLEASANT BEACH — The Point Pleasant Beach School District plans to have in-person learning, to some extent, in the fall, with detailed, official plans to be announced later over the summer, schools Superintendent William Smith said 

The news follows the June 26 release by the New Jersey Department of Education [NJDOE] of health-and-safety guidelines for the reopening of schools for the 2020-2021 school year. 

The state guidance allows districts to open buildings in some capacity for in-person instruction, but according to Gov. Phil Murphy, each district may create its own custom plan to keep students and staff safe. 

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“The NJDOE’s document is thoughtful and comprehensive, leaving districts with broad flexibility regarding how best to deliver instruction in a manner that ensures safety and equity,” Mr. Smith said. 

Leading up to the state announcement, the district created a team of internal stakeholders and administrators to prepare for the local reopening, he said.

“While I am not prepared to announce any specifics regarding scheduling for next year, many options that would ensure adequate social distancing are on the table,” Mr. Smith said. “We are fortunate to have the advantage of smaller class sizes and relatively small school populations.”

According to the NJDOE, schools must implement social distancing practices, which may force staggered class schedules and lunch, gym and recess times. Schedules may include hybrid models that have a combination of in-person and remote instruction. 

Staff and visitors must wear face masks, unless they can’t for health reasons, and students and staff must be screened for symptoms upon arrival in the morning. Playground equipment must be sanitized between uses, and districts should consider closing gym locker rooms, the guidance states. 

According to the NJDOE, if coronavirus infection rates grow, schools may be forced back to remote learning. 

Superintendent Smith said programs like the district’s one-to-one Apple laptop program, giving each student a laptop, provide the school with some flexibility in planning how they will return. 

“I feel confident that both Antrim and the high school will be able to open in some form, responsibly and safely,” he said.

“In the near future, we will solicit input from the broader stakeholder community regarding a number of important issues related to our re-opening,” said the superintendent. 

The state’s 104-page plan, called The Road Back: Restart & Recovery Plan for Education, can be found at nj.gov/education/reopening.

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