Dear Westwood Regional School Community,
The news, information, and questions surrounding the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to grow. As a school district, Westwood Regional has been in consultation with our State and Local Health and Education agencies in order to comprehensively understand the current and potential impact on our schools. This letter will update you on the latest information as well as provide important reminders so please read through to the end.
Status of Novel Coronavirus in our Schools:
As of the day/time that this letter is being written, we do not have any presumptive or confirmed cases of COVID-19 in our schools. However, due to the diligence of our staff and families who have reached out to administration and nurses, we have experienced unrelated instances in our schools involving scenarios that have resulted in students or staff being advised to remain home while their case is evaluated by the Department of Health. None of the scenarios include students/staff having direct contact with individuals who have been tested or who are symptomatic; however, due to family/travel/work/college circumstances their loved ones may have been exposed to someone who has tested positive, is being tested, or is symptomatic.
Each case is evaluated based upon the unique circumstances and we are taking direction from the Department of Health and CDC guidelines in consultation with our school physician. In all of the cases, the recommendations are being made in an abundance of caution as we continue to navigate this unchartered territory. Once again, we do not have any presumptive or confirmed cases of COVID-19 in our schools at this time.
Disinfection: Our custodial and maintenance team is implementing a strict protocol for enhanced cleaning and disinfecting our schools. The wipes and chemicals to disinfect frequently touched objects, surfaces, handrails, doorknobs, supplies, etc. throughout the day, is confirmed by the manufacturer to effectively neutralize the Coronavirus. In addition, all of our schools are equipped with electrostatic sprayers to apply chemicals more effectively and consistently. Our bathrooms are fully stocked and replenished with hand soap to accommodate the increased and frequent handwashing.
Hygiene practices: The most common and effective preventative measure to mitigate the risk of infection and spread of the virus is the promotion of basic hygiene practices:
Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
Stay home when you are sick; keep children home when they are sick.
Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
Field Trips: Until further notice, all field trips are canceled with the exception of travel to other public schools for interscholastic competition or learning experiences.
End of Year Celebrations: School and parent-group sponsored celebrations such as proms, end-of-season dinners, etc. hosted at off-site venues are provisionally permitted as long as there is confirmation that appropriate measures are in place to protect the health and safety of attendees. Event organizers must work closely with school personnel throughout the planning process.
Travel Plans: As a reminder, please inform your school nurse if any student/staff member is traveling abroad and/or their family members returning from out of the country. The nursing staff will monitor these cases and contact families if necessary.
Per the guidance received from the NJ Department of Education (NJDOE) and the NJ Department of Health (NJDOH) schools may be directed to close by the NJDOH preemptively or reactively, therefore schools should plan and prepare accordingly. Furthermore, “Any day in which students impacted by a public health-related closure have access to home instruction services ... will count as a day in which the board of education has provided public school facilities toward its compliance with the 180-day requirement in accordance with N.J.S.A. 18A:7F-9.”
Remote Instruction Planning
Technology: In the event we receive a Department of Health directive to institute a public-health related closure of schools, we are fully prepared to provide instructional services to K-12 enrolled students and primarily facilitated through the use of technology and Google Classroom. We are fortunate to have the inventory and infrastructure in our district needed to offer Chromebooks for home use to any student or staff member who may need it during school closure. If you foresee the need for a district-supplied Chromebook and/or a means of Internet access (WiFi) that you currently do not have, please complete this Technology Needs Survey.
Instructional Activities and Expectations: In order to provide remote instruction to our students, teachers in all content areas are planning experiences that are sufficient to continue the student’s academic progress as follows:
Grades K-5: Approximately two hours (grades K-2) and four hours (grades 3-5) of activities are being planned which will encompass each of the content areas taught on that particular day including specials. Assignments will be posted on Google Classroom each morning on a daily basis.
Grades 6-12: Approximately four hours of activities are being planned which will mimic the schedule that would be in place if students were in school. Assignments will be posted on Google Classroom each morning on a daily basis.
Daily activities will be designed to include some sort of demonstration of learning to be completed at the end of the daily experience and homework may still be assigned for reinforcement.
Staff Engagement: In the event of a school closure, all certified school staff including teachers, counselors, related service providers, etc. will be available for assistance electronically via email or through Google classroom during typical school hours. Teachers will provide feedback and grades in a timely fashion.
Special Education: Every effort will be made to provide accommodations and modifications according to students’ Individualized Education Plans. Teachers in specialized programs, as well as related service providers, will also send individualized activities aligned to student IEP goals. Please reach out to your teacher or service provider directly if you have any questions.
If school is canceled, ALL school activities, sponsored-events, sports, etc. are also canceled including before/aftercare provided by Champions.
For any questions or concerns regarding COVID-19, call the New Jersey Department of Health’s 24-hour hotline at 1-800-222-1222.
In closing, I want to thank you for your understanding and cooperation as we navigate these unchartered waters. I assure you that the health and safety of our school community is paramount while we endeavor to provide our students with continuous quality learning.
Very truly yours,
Raymond A. Gonzalez, Ed. D.
Superintendent of Schools