Students across Ocean County on Monday received a letter from faculty members asking parents to complete surveys regarding possible school closures due to the Coronavirus. The districts say the letter was a recommendation from the New Jersey Department of Health.
The letter contained a form that surveyed the student’s ability to continue their classes at home, asking about internet access, computer availability and in some cases access to public broadcasting services.
Some letters asked whether or not parents would object to school closures as a preventative measure against the spread of the virus. The letter is being referred to as “Technology at Home” survey.
“We are in the process of creating those home instruction contingency plans, which could include direct services and assignments and online instruction,” said the Jackson School District. “This means that once our home instruction plan is approved, IF state health officials direct us to close, we would NOT be required to make up those days in the calendar.”
Jackson Township alerted families with a digital form for the survey.
Brick Township’s school district is also planning a Coronavirus preparedness plan which involves e-learning should that become necessary. The district will use the March 16th in-house professional service half-day to coordinate with faculty.
Given the evolving nature of this conversation statewide, Governor Phil Murphy, Education Commissioner Lamont O. Repollet, and Department of Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli held a
conference call with several hundred public and private school superintendents this week.
Commissioner Repollet also met with school superintendents on Thursday afternoon to discuss schoolpreparedness and planning in the event of a COVID-19 outbreak. The NJDOE is asking each school district to develop a preparedness plan for the provision of home instruction to students in the event of a closure. The preparedness plan should also address the provision of appropriate special education and other services to students with disabilities and the provision of school nutrition benefits or services to eligible students.
While there are no immediate plans to implement such a system, health officials may also call for a tiered system of social distancing in schools, possibly limiting certain functions such as sports events and assemblies in order to limit the risk of exposure.
If a student or staff member is suspected to have been exposed to COVID-19, the chief school administrator or authorized designee should immediately contact local health officials to discuss the appropriate response, including possible dismissal of students or temporary closure.