FLEMINGTON, NJ - Hunterdon Central Regional School District Superintendent Dr. Jeffery Moore praised “a truly successful reopening” of the high school.
He noted that student cooperation in particular has been exceptional.
“It’s been a significant force behind our success,” Moore said, “all of the strange things that we’ve asked students to do with masks and one-way hallways and the chores around daily symptom-free assurance forms for our families.”
Moore acknowledged that everyone – those in operations, teachers, support staff and parents – have been asked to do a lot. But he assured everyone at the Sept. 21 school board meeting that it all has a purpose and fits into a balance of mitigating the risk of spreading the coronavirus while taking advantage of the opportunity to be in-person.
As for what’s next, Moore said, that is what is being explored with the health department and other schools in the county. He added there are several options on where to grow to.
“From increasing the number of student programs that are eligible for four days of in-person instruction, to beginning to use Wednesday as an in-person day in an alternating ‘group one, group two, A/B day kind of way.” Moore said. “The Department of Health is gathering information for us now on how schools are expected to leverage the new state regional classification system.”
He was referring to the COVID-19 Regional Risk Matrix system used to determine school statuses. The system divides the state into six geographic regions, with Hunterdon County in the Central West region with Mercer and Somerset counties.
Each region receives a color classification – green, yellow, orange and red – based on coronavirus data. Under the system, a code red would mean a county would fully implement remote learning.
Moore told the school board that health officials would want the county to be in the “green” for at least a couple of weeks before the amount of in-person time is expanded.
The only barrier that seems to remain for the district is the 6-foot social distancing guideline that the state has mandated.
“As long as 6 feet remains a target for distancing, then half day with no lunch and even down to 50 percent of students will probably be where we are,” Moore said, adding that he hopes the rules relax soon.
Moore also addressed questions from the student council as presented by Amy Torres-Valverde. Students asked if the school would close during the flu season, and Moore said they intend on staying open, but will continue to take guidance from the health department.
State Health Commissioner Judy Persichilli and other health officials from across the country have warned of a double whammy of the flu and COVID-19 this winter season. They are urging people to get a flu shot to mitigate a strain on health resources as the pandemic continues.
Moore, addressing winter and spring break, said they will stay on the calendar where they are, but warned, “if we do end up taking emergency days and we go past the three that we have built in our calendar, then we would have to potentially dip into spring break.”
As far as snow days, Moore said they will remain as they always were. “A snow day cannot be taken as a remote day,” he said. “Remote days can only be taken under really specific legal circumstances.”