Bridgeton Public School District Releases Reopening Plan

By: David J. Detweiler, Writer / Follow South Jersey Child Welfare Intern

BRIDGETON, N.J. — The Bridgeton Public School District released an extensive reopening plan last week with a ton of information to take in.

The September 8 start of the 2020-21 school year will follow Phase 1 of a three-phase plan. This phase includes a hybrid schedule in which students will only physically be in attendance once a week. The rest of the week will be conducted through remote learning. Students that are enrolled in Special Education or any students in Pre-K are required to come to school twice weekly.

Bridgeton has separated students into four different groups that will attend on different days of the week, keeping their schools at 25% capacity per day. Once there is enough comfort to move to Phase 2, schools in the district will send two groups at different points of the week for in-class learning twice a week. This will increase capacity to 50%. The ultimate goal is to get to the third phase of 100% capacity eventually.

In class, school days will last at least four hours. Buses will require face masks and social distancing, and they’re expected to provide students with disposable masks if they do not have one. Face masks are required to enter the school premises. Temperature checks will occur daily to anyone who may enter.

Signs, arrows, and tape will be placed around campuses to enforce social distancing. Classrooms will have desks spaced six feet apart and facing one direction, desks that are not allowed to be used may be marked with an X to keep six feet of distance between people. Sharing of items will be limited and items will be cleaned after each use. Enhanced cleaning schedules will be enforced, and high contact objects (e.g., drinking fountains, classroom desks and chairs, door handles, bathroom light switches, buttons on vending machines and elevators, telephones, etc.) will be prioritized to disinfect.

Buses will also go through enhanced cleanings at the end of each day. Sanitation stations will be implemented at entrances, exits, lavatories, and classrooms. Lunch will be eaten in the classrooms, and extra trash cans will be placed in the rooms for students’ convenience. Classrooms will be ventilated whenever possible. Heat will be available in all classrooms. Areas with air conditioning will go through filter changes regularly.

Students that are unable to wear a mask or comply with the safety standards have the option of participating in full-time remote learning.

Daily remote blocks will span 75 minutes. Teachers will instruct lessons to remote students during the time. Microsoft Teams will be the software used for completing assignments in the remote learning setting. Other software such as ClassDojo and WebEx will be utilized as well.

Recess will be canceled for grades that still partake in the daily event. Students will instead have 20 minutes of organized activity in their respective homeroom. High school students will learn health instead of participating in Physical Education. Students that do participate in P.E. throughout the district are encouraged to come to school with clothes that are appropriate for exercise. This will extricate students from the use of locker rooms.

Changes to Music courses include no singing indoors and the prohibition of instrument sharing. Field trips are also out of the question during the first two phases of the restart.

Athletics this fall will be at a standstill until further guidance from the NJSIAA. Bridgeton will only carry varsity sports teams this fall, including boys/girls soccer, boys/girls cross country, football, cheerleading, girls tennis, and field hockey. All teams have a maximum number of 18 members. Football, which is allowed to have 40 players on the roster, is the only exception. Fall athletics are limited to workouts only and no more than one workout per day. Teams must also have permission from their school to use indoor facilities. Any member that contracts COVID-19 will be quarantined until 72 hours following the resolution of symptoms. They must be cleared by a doctor of osteopathic medicine (DO) or a doctor of medicine (MD) before they can return to their team for workouts.

A student or staff member who shows coronavirus symptoms will be isolated from others. Schools will notify the area of any positive tests from a student or staff member. School safety specialists have been trained by Johns Hopkins University in contact tracing and will perform a spread prevention method when needed. Staff or students will be notified and recommended to quarantine in the event of coming in close contact with someone who has been diagnosed with COVID-19.

You can get a full look at the reopening plan here.

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.