By: DJ Detweiler, Writer / Follow South Jersey Child Welfare Intern
BRIDGETON, N.J. — As the 2020-21 school year inches closer, Bridgeton Public Schools are setting the foundation for a return that will be ready for whichever direction the coronavirus pandemic will take it thanks to two plans: The Closure Preparedness Plan and Superintendent Keith Miles’s 90-Day Entry Plan.
The Closure Preparedness Plan was created a few months ago for the 2019-20 school year’s early ending. However, the public school system wouldn’t have a reason to change the basis of the plan if the same issue of early closure arose again. The first section of this three-part plan focuses on education. In the event of a transition to remote learning, students will receive their educational content through the Clever portal, and virtual classroom meetings will be held via Microsoft Teams. WebEx will be the place to find live and previously-recorded lessons. Assignments can be accessed through PDFs and Microsoft Forms.
Each grade level has a specific schedule to meet online with teachers weekly (excluding high school students). Students in preschool, kindergarten, first grade, and second grade will have their language arts, math, and science instruction Monday through Wednesday. Their school week will conclude with small group instruction and related arts instruction on Thursday and Friday.
Third graders and non-departmentalized fourth graders will start their schedule with math, science, and arts/world language on Monday followed by ESL and/or physical education (PE)/technology, Response to Intervention (RTI) small group instruction, and Transitional Bilingual instruction on Tuesday. Wednesday will entail any art, music, world language, and language arts courses. Thursday will close the week with Small Group Instruction in all areas of content.
Departmentalized fourth graders up to eighth graders will adhere to the same schedule. Mondays and Wednesdays will consist of math, LAL arts, and music or world language. Tuesdays and Thursdays will be reserved for teaching the students social studies, science, and PE or technology.
Part two of Bridgeton’s closure plan involves “Nutrition and Food Services.” Bridgeton will operate meal distribution under the Summer Feeding Program until the learning establishment is ready for students to safely return. The school kitchen prepped meals will be wrapped with a machine for safety and reheating purposes. A two-week menu will be available with meeting times and places that three district trucks will deliver meals to. Expect to see these trucks between noon and 2 p.m. at Street Elementary School, Quarter Mile Lane Elementary School, Bridgeton Hall of Fame, Alms Center, MLK Way, Buckshutem Road Elementary School, Bridgeton Family Success Center, Life in Christ Ministries, and at The Marino Center.
The third and final portion is titled “Related Educational Services.” Attendance will still be monitored through submitted work and online class participation. The attendance policy, nevertheless, must be followed by students to be promoted to the next grade level. Community and Parent Involvement Specialists (CPIS), Parent Liaisons, Principals, and Assistant Principals are expected to reach out to students that may struggle with following this transition. Other particular circumstances relating to students are covered in this area and can be seen here.
Elsewhere, superintendent Keith Miles provided his draft of the 90-Day Entry Plan. The plan has the purpose of moving Bridgeton Public Schools forward. It focuses on three topics: “Stakeholder Engagement and Relationship Building,” “Deepening Organization’s Use of Data to Improve Achievement,” and “Build, Communicate, and Execute Plans for Long-term Impact.”
“Stakeholder Engagement and Relationship Building” dives into working toward reopening Bridgeton’s schools. This phase includes working with re-opening subcommittees that parents can be invited to serve on to assist the re-opening. A Superintendent Community Advisory Council will be created and filled with people such as clergy, local business owners, politicians, and city officials that will meet monthly. Welcome back messages will be issued to the community, and cabinet leadership will work on a “memorable and safe” welcome back convocation using WebEx and pre-recorded videos. Superintendent Miles is also planning on hosting listening tours along with spending a minimum of one hour visiting and monitoring each school weekly. This phase is designed to span from July 1 to September 1.
Taking place directly after will be: “Deepening Organization’s Use of Data to Improve Achievement,” which should last from September 1 to October 15. This section states that Bridgeton will review data with all principals to troubleshoot any challenges each school might face. This will continue to occur twice per quarter.
The data that will be discussed will include academic data, behavior data, parental engagement data, remote learning achievement, remote learning engagement, and attendance. Math will be a big focal point of these evaluations, as data from the math department will be compared to similar districts and adjusted accordingly. Miles will also visit math with content specialists to attain more information relating to how teachers educate students on the given curriculum. Lastly, the superintendent will work with the Humanities Director to achieve engagement from students, staff, families, and campaign partners in a district-wide literacy campaign.
The 90-Day Entry Plan closes out with “Build, Communicate, and Execute Plans for Long-term Impact.” Even though this phase began on July 15, it ends later than all three: October 30. This focus entails strategies to keep district goals and priorities at the forefront while taking given data to formulate a one-to-two-year plan for the district.
For starters, the district is required to come up with a sustainability plan to follow its 1-to-1 Chromebook initiative where each student will receive a district-owned Chromebook computer. Another point of emphasis regarding technology is to ensure that every student has internet access at their home. Teachers should be prepped for in-class, remote, and hybrid learning scenarios. Miles also mentions the goal of being aware and proactive rather than reactive with safety standards. This ultimately would keep schools ready in the case of another closure or other health-related incidents. To top off the final focus of this 90-day plan, Superintendent Miles plans to inform the community about what education in Bridgeton will look like post-COVID-19.
Although there is no academic calendar to peek at and see these events, a member of the district office for Bridgeton Public Schools said that August 4 has been suggested as the day of a potential academic calendar release. A district board meeting is arranged for that day, so some iteration of the schedule could come to fruition afterward. Bridgeton’s closure plan answers many questions on the minds of worried parents — and Superintendent Miles’s 90-Day Entry Plan draft looks to be a massive step toward a safe return to the classroom.
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This article was produced by a Follow South Jersey news intern thanks to a grant provided by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation through the New Jersey Health Initiatives program to create hyper-local news to meet the informational and health needs of the City of Bridgeton, N.J.
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