BRADLEY BEACH — The school district enters 2021 proud without having had to discontinue in-person learning and switch to all virtual classes, Superintendent and Principal Stephen Wisniewski said last week. He credited the plan that was created by staff, parents and the school’s administration as well as the small size of the single-school district.
Addressing a board of education meeting on Jan. 6, Mr. Wisniewski said, “It’s really a testament to the entire community, I think we put procedures in place that were effective and coupled with compliance by students, staff and parents that have allowed us to get to this point.”
The superintendent noted that only 77 school districts in the state had thus far been able to keep classrooms open.
“As proud as I am, I want to be realistic with everyone here that it would really just take one or two phone calls that could impact the entire school,” Mr. Wisniewski added, however. “I want to start off by reminding people how razor-thin that margin is and we have been able to walk that line.”
The district’s reopening plan was formulated last summer, well before the start of the school year in September. Instead of students moving from classroom to classroom, increasing the possibility of spreading COVID-19, classes remain in place, each in the same classroom, and avoid commingling with other groups of students.
An announcement on the district’s website on Nov. 15 informed parents that “an individual” at the school had contracted COVID-19. Last week the superintendent told members of the board that members of the school’s staff had also contracted the virus, but were quarantined in time.
There are outside influences that would force the district to close its doors. The New Jersey Department of Health tracks the spread of COVID-19 and breaks the state into six regions and measures the current activity level of the virus in the state. If a region moves into the “Very High” category schools will be forced to close and switch to virtual instruction.
Currently, every region in the state is rated in the “High” category.
Should the district have to switch to all virtual instruction, members of the school’s administration are confident they can make a smooth transition. While closing the digital divide has been a focus of state officials, staff at Bradley Beach Elementary School have worked to make sure that students have the computers and internet access they would need to take lessons from home.
School staff has hand-delivered materials to the homes of students who opted for virtual learning.
Alison Zylinski, supervisor of special services at the school, was one of the members of the staff who delivered supplies to students. Last spring, she said, she visited between 20 to 30 homes a week in the district to deliver computers and hotspots.
“There were many other teachers that would deliver their own supplies to families or use their own money to mail packets of materials,” she said. “Our entire faculty and staff were amazing and worked tirelessly to reach every student and try to engage them in learning as much as possible. We spent hours every day trying to support our students and parents in engaging in remote learning. As I said before, we are in a much better place now.”
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