Brick Township will not be among those New Jersey school districts that will put off returning to school in-person next month, officials confirmed at a meeting of the Board of Education Thursday night.
A week after neighboring Toms River Regional schools decided to begin the year with remote-only learning, Brick Township Schools Superintendent Thomas Farrell said the Ocean County superintendent of schools and state Department of Education signed off on Brick’s return-to-school plan completely, with no revisions required. The district certified that it could meet state requirements for safety amid the coronavirus pandemic.
“We are going to be moving forward with our hybrid learning model this fall,” said Thomas, adding that 75 percent of parents surveyed in the district indicated that they wanted their children to attend at least some classes in person. “I was informed yesterday that we were one of the first districts in the county to receive approval with no revisions to our plan.”
A major factor in the district’s ability to return to classes, staffing, shows a stark contrast between Brick and some other districts. Brick Township’s teachers’ union president did not sign on to a letter circulating among other Ocean County local unions which opposed beginning the year with in-person classes. Farrell said 95 percent of staff members indicated they would be willing to return to school buildings come September.
“We truly have the best staff in the state as far as I’m concerned,” said Farrell. “I’m ecstatic to say that 95 percent of our staff stated the wanted to return this fall to restart in-person instruction … This pandemic has formed a polarizing climate throughout the state that we did not let permeate our school district.”
Students will return to school as part of “teams” that will be assigned in-person schedules for either Monday and Wednesday or Tuesday and Thursday. The remaining three days will include remote-learning, and schools will be deep cleaned on Fridays as no students will be present in the buildings.
No members of the public spoke in opposition to the district’s plans during numerous public comment sessions. More than 100 viewers tuned in to the remote broadcast over YouTube.
“Our hybrid plan is not possible without the input, dedication, participation and commitment without all Brick Township school district stakeholders,” said Board President Stephanie Wohlrab.
The board formally adopted its 2020-21 school calendar for the year. School begins for students Sept. 8 and follows what appears to be a regular schedule including a break for teachers’ convention Nov. 2-6.