Degrees and Certifications:
Mr. Robert Mooney
On June 26, 2020, Governor Philip Murphy and the Commissioner of Education released a document titled, “The Road Back – Restart and Recovery Plan for Education”. Essentially, this document provides information necessary to plan for the reopening of schools in September and return to in-person instruction to the extent that is both reasonable and practical.
Once we reviewed the State document, our first initiative was to evaluate building and classroom capacity based on the State established guidelines and procedures. It was determined that the District would open in September with the Hybrid Schedule as well as the option of 100% Virtual Schedule. These two options serve as the basis for the District’s Restart and Recovery Plan; however, many details had to be clarified and established throughout the summer in order to present a well-organized, efficient, and practical Plan for the start of the 2020-2021 school year.
In order to consider and manage the myriad of requisite details necessary to complete the Plan, the following working groups were established:
- The District-wide Restart Committee
- The Haskell School Pandemic Response Team
- The Wanaque School Pandemic Response Team
- The District-wide Staff/Administrative Coronavirus Steering Committee
- Informal discussions with Members of the Board of Education
- Finance Committee of the Board of Education
- Facilities Committee of the Board of Education
- Policy Committee of the Board of Education
- Personnel Committee of the Board of Education
- Curriculum and Instruction Committee of the Board of Education
- Team Meetings based on grade levels and specific staff assignments
As part of the District’s outreach strategies, both parents and staff members were asked to complete surveys regarding several pertinent pieces of information directly related to the Restart and Recovery Plan. Additionally, the District conducted several Parent Forum Meetings in order to give parents an opportunity to ask questions about the academic program, social/emotional learning, transportation, personal protective equipment, lunch, recess, etc. The District Physician, Dr. Deborah Steinbuam, spoke to the parents at the public meeting of the Board of Education on August 10, 2020. Throughout the summer months, the District communicated changes and adjustments to the families to ensure the parents and students clearly understood how the Plan evolved and what the September Reopening would look like for both the Hybrid and 100% Virtual schedules.
As part of the planning process, the District established the Three Pillars (Goals) for the Restart and Recovery Plan. The Three pillars are:
- Health and Safety
- In-Person Instruction
- The District to Work Cooperatively with the Families and Staff
The Wanaque Public Schools Restart and Recovery Plan is designed to provide all the stakeholders reasonable notice about our plans for September 2020. Due to the complexity of the plan- adjustments, enhancements, and changes are and will continue to be anticipated. The approval process for the Wanaque Public Schools Restart and Recovery Plan included:
- Initial Board of Education approval – August 10, 2020
- Board of Education approval of the Revised Plan – August 25, 2020
- Approval of the Plan by the New Jersey Department of Education – September 3, 2020
The final decision to open school on September 8, 2020, for in-person instruction was made based on the recommendation from the District Physician, the Governor’s Executive Orders, and the favorable Covid-19 Activity Level Report of August 29, 2020. This Activity Level Report suggested that September 8, 2020 was a good time for re-opening schools because the activity rate in the State of New Jersey and more specifically in our region, the Northwest, was low.
These facts, along with the long list of health-related initiatives including the purchase of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), suggest that opening school was a reasonable decision.
As we move from the summer months to the 2020-2021 school year, we know that the entire operation will be new, different, and unique. The District will continue to strive to make continuous improvements as we all work on this “new normal” academic world. Please feel free to contact me with any questions, suggestions, or concerns at 862-200-6621. Let’s have a great school year!
Robert P. Mooney