Dear Staff, Parents/Guardians, and Community,
The family-school partnership is always essential, more so now than ever in these trying times. As you know, this year we actually have two opening days. Today we returned to school in an all-virtual mode, and on October 12 we begin the in-person hybrid model. Together, we can successfully deliver a quality educational program to our children. While there is no doubt in my mind that 100% in-person learning is the best educational and emotional experience for children, we must push ahead and ensure that our children grow socially, emotionally, and academically while adapting to the challenges posed by the pandemic.
I am sure I do not have to remind you of the many changes the COVID -19 pandemic has fixed upon all of us. Our district, like many others, is presented with a particular challenge in that it was constructed to house large numbers of students with class sizes of approximately 20 to 25 students. Under the social distancing guidelines provided to us by the Governor’s office, the majority of our classrooms can only fit 10-13 students. These restrictions reduced our student capacity to 30% at the High School level and 50% at the PreK-8 levels. In turn, this reduction in space has pushed us into the extensive use of virtual learning.
The overarching question our administrators and teachers have explored all summer is how do we provide a safe and healthy educational environment for our students in such a complex setting? How do we maximize this virtual and hybrid experience to benefit students?
We now believe we have enhanced our distance learning program to provide students with a virtual model of instruction that promotes meaningful opportunities to learn and grow. Our virtual learning model expands upon our existing practices and promotes engagement while ensuring continuity of instruction. Teachers and students will use the Google-Suite for Education and other district-approved, web-based tools designed to promote critical thinking, communication, and collaboration. Students will attend synchronous, live sessions with teachers and classmates and participate in daily instruction. Students will also have the opportunity for independent practice, and they will continue to have access to the same diversity of courses as in a traditional model.
We are confident that our children will ascend academically and feel emotionally successful within the new school structures.
We want to assure parents the program we developed in the spring has been enhanced and improved. Students will now follow a specific schedule, receive live instruction, and attendance will be required in all classes. We increased our knowledge and professional practice by inculcating new and exciting web-based tools into our virtual programs. Together we will ensure our children gain emotionally and academically while we continue to strengthen virtual learning in the district.
As the new superintendent of Bridgewater-Raritan, I welcome you to school year 2020-2021 and together, as parents, staff, and students, we will work to make this a productive and positive learning environment for all.
Dr. Thomas Ficarra
Interim Superintendent of Schools