Preparedness Plan - COVID-19

The Howell Township Public School Board of Education recognizes the need for continuous learning - anytime, anywhere.  While some settings are better than others to meet this need, there may come a time when we must provide continuity of teaching and learning in difficult circumstances and less than optimal settings.

COVID-19 Information

Recent communications from State-level officials have made it clear, given the recent concern over the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19), the best option for all school districts, and the communities they serve, is to plan and prepare for the possibility that school facilities are required to close and events are cancelled (NJDOE Special Broadcast, March 5, 2020). We have sought clarification and collaborated with partner districts to establish that preparedness. Given the media coverage and rumors regarding COVID-19, it is hard not to panic.  Yet, common sense measures must be taken, and panicking will only make matters worse.  For common sense measures that everyone can take, please visit the New Jersey Health Association’s article.

 

District Communication - The Most Up to Date Information

 

Because of our  constant communication and coordination with state and municipal partners,  the Howell School District will frequently update our plans, and communications with you. If you have questions, you can reach us through all the usual means.  First-hand answers are the best source of information.  Believing rumors or information frequently posted on social media can heighten anxiety and create confusion, and contribute to harm more than good.Please check back to this page, district/school websites and official district communications and resources for the most recent, relevant, and factual information.

 

 

It may be hard to talk to your children about COVID-19. Again, there is a lot of misinformation, some of it is wrong, some of it is harmful, some of it ‘shames and blames’ without facts. There is some good information, however, and it is a good idea to talk to your children about the correct information.  We know they are aware of the anxieties in the adult world.  Below is a link to help you help them better understand our current situation, and perhaps put both of your minds’ at ease. Talking to Children About COVID-19 - A Parent Resource

 

 

COVID-19 Action Plan

What if We Need to Close our Schools?

 

Over the past week, our staff has been working to develop a Remote Learning Forced Closing Preparedness Plan for the Continuity of Teaching and Learning.  As per direction for the NJDOE, that plan has been submitted to the County Executive Superintendent for review.  The intention of this plan is to preserve the continuity of instruction during a time when assembling in person is not possible due to emergent health and safety risks, causing a forced closure of our school facilities. It is important, bordering on essential, to keep in mind that the remote learning plan is in no way an optimal substitute for the in-person, teacher-student relationship that fosters the best learning opportunities.  Because of the nature of such circumstances, this is an optimized ‘band-aid’ to meet potential learning needs during an emergent set of social distancing needs. Preparation, implementation, outcomes, and next steps should be thoughtfully considered with flexibility and an open mind to designing success for staff, students, and families impacted by whatever emergency occurs. To that end, this plan is a living plan.  As the needs and circumstances shift, the HTPS administration and teacher leaders will adapt this plan to best meet those needs and address the emergent circumstances.

 

Please know, once our remote learning plan is approved, should state health officials direct us to close, we would not be required to make up those days in the calendar.

 

What is the District’s Home Instruction Plan?

 

While the plan is still being reviewed by the Executive County Superintendent, we will provide an overview here.  Should anything need to be changed after the review, we will update the plan and communicate those changes through all of our usual communication means.

If the decision is made to force the temporary, but extended closure of our school facilities, please know that we may consider exhausting all emergency closing days first, and if necessary, we may hold four-hour school days using days appropriated as breaks in the school calendar.

To meet the challenge of providing continuity of instruction and learning in such difficult circumstances, Howell Township Public Schools will use remote blended learning designs. This is a combination of paper-based learning experiences, as well as digital learning experiences. The determination of traditional versus digital will be based on the developmental appropriateness of, and availability of access to, digital resources versus traditional resources. Please know that very similar variety and level of support from staff will be available through the remote learning plan.  While it may look different, it will still be there.  Anything that we cannot truly do remotely, will be addressed once we return to school.

 

 

Grade Band Remote Teaching & Learning Expectations

Remote Teaching & Learning Expectations:

Teaching is a process that occurs as much when students are not present as it does when they are.  It is expected that staff will be online between the hours of 10:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. each remote school day. While many professional practices might take place in that window, staff is to prioritize communications with students and their families.  This may be in the form of feedback, posting, commenting on posts, and answering questions from students, parents, and colleagues.  Remaining time should be used for planning, organizing, collaborating with colleagues and virtual meetings with school leaders.

PreK-2 Grades Overview

Primary grade students (PreK through second grade) will continue their independent reading. Primary students may show evidence of their learning through reading logs, reading notebooks, written reflections, and annotations as well as other portfolio-based demonstrations of mastery.  Information, at-home learning opportunities, updates, and support for parents will be shared via teacher websites. Every-day mathematical opportunities, math talks, and math sense in the real world can be documented through math logs, and math talk reflections.  Other acceptable learning platforms could be, but are not limited to, Seesaw, FlipGrid, etc. Again, initial access should be provided through teacher websites.  The district will work with any and all students, and their families, to ensure they have access to all remote learning opportunities, whether they be digital or paper-based.  Additionally, to the extent possible, we want all primary students engaged in purposeful play.

Elementary (3-5) & Middle Grades (6-8) Overview

In grades three through five, like six through eight, students will be given their one-to-one devices to take home. Teachers will develop lessons that can be accessed and completed via a variety of digital platforms. The most prominent and preferred platform is to use Schoology, though other acceptable platforms could be used. The district will work with any and all students, and their families, to ensure they have access to all remote learning opportunities, whether they be digital or paper-based.

Assignments for students in grades 3 through 8 should include an opportunity to respond to meaningful questions and further opportunity for students to appropriately comment on one another's posts. As a reference, we are providing the summer reading book club format that has been incredibly successful for the past three summers. Again, this is offered as an example of the types of assignments that could be used and structures to support monitoring student contributions and progress. Other examples could be, but are not limited to, teacher-made videos, or teacher-curated videos, to which students would respond. Digital texts, such as those provided through Newsela, can be assigned for reading material and response. The suite of Pearson and Big Ideas (mathematics) online tutorial resources will be available for students to access

Meals for Students with Free & Reduced Services

 

The distribution sites for pick-up of “Grab-and-Go” meals will be open Monday and Wednesday from 10:00 AM to 11:00 AM at the following pickup locations:

  • Memorial School for students attending Griebling, Memorial, Adelphia, Ardena and Middle School North.
  • Land O Pines School for students attending Land O Pines or Newbury.
  • Taunton School for students attending Taunton or Aldrich.
  • Middle School South for students attending Ramtown, Greenville, Middle School South.
 
Two days’ worth of food will be given on Monday (for Monday and Tuesday) and three days on Wednesday (for Wednesday, Thursday and Friday).

 

 

Frequently Asked Questions

 

What if I Don’t Have Internet Access or a Computer at Home for Grades 3-8 Students?

For those families without internet access, the district will provide access through a vendor relationship, as appropriate and where possible. In the unlikely event that it is not possible for the district to provide internet access, paper and portfolio-based learning experiences will be distributed to those students.

 

What About Large Community Events, Sporting Events and Field Trips?

At this time, we believe it may be necessary to alter plans for upcoming large community gatherings, including auditorium events, sporting events and field trips. Cancellations may occur as deemed necessary.  It is incredibly important for us all to follow proper health and safety protocols when in public or during large gatherings.

 

Haven’t schools made pandemic plans in the past?

In the past, we have found ourselves in similar difficult circumstances.  Plans to provide for the continuity of student learning were developed during the H1N1, SARS, MRSA, and the Avian Flu concerns - to name a few.  This time, our digital capabilities, school governance, overall operational structures, and policy clarity from the NJDOE in partnership with the Governor’s office finds us in a much better position to facilitate a more dynamic plan than has been developed in the past.  We have learned from past plans, and though they were never enacted, the opportunities to build those plans have prepared us to think, plan, and prepare in ways that will allow the best possible outcomes in the most difficult of situations.

Staying Healthy

As a parent, what should I be doing?

 

  • Stay informed by visiting this page for real-time updates and official district information
  • Plan child care arrangements if a school closure is deemed necessary
  • Review with your child the importance of hand washing and preventative health measures:
    • Wash hands often with soap and water. If not available, use hand sanitizer.
    • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands
    • Avoid contact with people who are sick
    • Stay home while you are sick and avoid contact with others
    • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or sleeve when coughing or sneezing

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/about/prevention.html

 

What is the district doing to prevent exposure to our students and staff?

The Howell Township Public School District is continuing the enhanced daily cleaning and sanitizing at all of our schools, including disinfecting all door knobs, desks, bathroom fixtures, and other frequently shared items. In addition, our bus drivers will be wiping down all bus seats on a regular basis.

Additional prevention strategies include:

  • Teaching proper handwashing and allowing frequent opportunities for additional handwashing
  • Performing daily inspections of student bathrooms to ensure there is adequate soap and paper towels available
  • Monitoring students and staff for symptoms to ensure only healthy people are coming in school

 

 

COVID-19 Resources