- View the SOMSD Reopening Update Letter for Phases 3-5 (via Google Doc)
- Download the SOMSD Reopening Update Letter
- View the shortened Reopening Update presentation as shared by Superintendent Taylor
- Read COVID-19 Health-Related Rationale for SOMSD Updated Reopening Plan
SOMSD School Reopening Video Message Update from Superintendent, Dr. Ronald G. Taylor
Dear South Orange & Maplewood School Community,
Over the past several weeks, we have had ongoing conversations and negotiations about reopening with our various stakeholders. Today, on behalf of the Board, our Administration and our teacher’s union, SOMEA, we are happy to announce that we have reached a resolution that resolves health and safety concerns regarding building ventilation issues that will allow for significantly more instructional spaces to expand the roll-out of in-person hybrid instruction for students whose families have opted in over the next few weeks.
Our reopening plans (as also discussed and supported by our local health departments) will begin on Monday, April 19 as detailed in the chart below. Updates to our reopening plan are guided by the Governor’s recent announcement reducing social distance for elementary grades, while keeping the six-feet social distancing guidelines intact for middle and high school students.
As a reminder: Parents/guardians of incoming “new to hybrid” students, please remember to send your child to school with an appropriate face mask (pack 1- 2 extra face masks for your child), hand sanitizer, and a water bottle [Click here to view District requirements for face masks: bit.ly/SOMSDFAQs]
Explanation of Phases & Timeline
The consolidation of cohorts and additional grade levels returning will be a significant adjustment for Phase 3. It marks the return of some of our younger students (PreK - 2) whose families have recently opted in; as well as the return of our older students (8th and 12 graders) who will be transitioning out of their schools and who all have not been in school since March 2020. Our logic for the two-week gap between Phase 4 and Phase 5 students’ return to in-person instruction are two-fold:
- The gap will help new students transition back to the normalcy of attending school in-person again (while allowing our local Departments of Health time to monitor the possible impact of community spread).
- It will allow time for staff to be returned to their assigned classroom (due to the recent concerns with SOMEA a subset of teachers were working in different spaces, i.e., 2nd graders in 4th grade rooms), however, with ventilation concerns being addressed, teachers will need to be relocated back to their classrooms to make room for the incoming student population.
COVID-19 Health-Related Rationale for SOMSD Updated Reopening Plan
We have been in discussions with our local health departments as well as District health leads and have updated our reopening plan based not only on state guidelines, but are also factoring and monitoring Essex County and local COVID positivity rates and spread. The NJ Essex County COVID-19 Activity Level Index (CALI) Score is presently “3” which is orange or high, which it has been since November 13, 2020. Since the week of January 22, 2021, when we began the District Dashboard, we’ve had 81 confirmed reported cases that were contracted from community exposures (outside of school). There is no evidence of SOMSD in-school transmission.
- Click here [bit.ly/2PM9zGO] to read a more detailed explanation from our health care professionals as well as more information on who should get tested for COVID-19 and the new testing location in Maplewood open from April 5 - 30.
It has been a long road. However, as we begin to see light at the end of this journey, we are extremely happy to have a plan in place that will allow for all of our students/families who have opted-in to hybrid instruction, to attend the last few months of school in-person. We again thank our students/families for their patience, our building administrators, staff and teachers for their hard work over the past-year, as well as our partners SOMEA for helping to move the needle forward to this point.
Additional updates will follow as needed from the District (i.e. regarding YMCA aftercare updates) and forthcoming return to school logistic details will be provided to families by your building principals.
SOMSD Updated Phased-In Reentry Plan for In-Person Hybrid Students