2020-2021 Frequently Asked Questions

During the planning process for the 2020-2021 school opening, parents and guardians have asked many questions.  This FAQ site (Frequently Asked Questions) was created, and will continue to be updated, in an effort to keep our school community informed of our progress.  Check this page on our web site regularly for new questions and answers. Don't forget to also check out the "Parent Communication" link located in the right-hand column for a record of all communication we have sent out during this pandemic.
 
For each question below, click on the question in order to read the response(s).
 
 
Yes, all students will be required to wear a face mask at all times while in school.  Students riding MTPS buses to and from school will also be required to wear a face covering.  Staff are required to wear a face covering at all times per “The Road Back” document provided by the New Jersey Department of Education (NJDOE).
 
 
Students should wear a face mask as described in #1 above. It should fit snugly, cover the nose and mouth, have 2-3 layers, not have valves and be washable or disposable. Gaiters are not recommended. In some cases where there are health concerns or special needs that would prevent wearing a face covering, an accommodation can be made with proper documentation. These special situations will be handled on a case by case basis. A child IS permitted to wear both a face mask AND a face shield if the parent and/or child desires.
 
 
Yes, the district will be implementing consistent “A” days and “B” days with 50% of the students in school on any given day. These days will always be the same each week. One day of the week (Wednesdays) will alternate between A and B days every other week.
 
 
The district is making every effort to ensure that students from the same household are on the SAME A/B day schedule if the hybrid option was selected.
 
 
  1. Provides critical time for teachers to prepare high quality. asynchronous/synchronous lessons and virtual assignments.
  2. Provides additional time for teachers to receive professional development on best practices for remote learning.
  3. Provides staff time to reflect, review, and revise both instruction and building safety procedures.
  4. Assistants will be available for small groups or 1:1 virtual support in the afternoon.
  5. Eliminates large group gatherings like lunch and recess.
 
 
No, to further limit student to student interaction all after-school activities and sports are cancelled until January 2021, unless state authorities direct a full return to in-person learning with buildings at full capacity.
 
 
Yes, on July 20 the governor announced that school districts will be required to provide a 100% remote learning option. A new survey to poll parents on their preferred option was sent to parents on Tuesday, July 28, 2020. You may select the 100% remote option by taking this important survey.
 
 
Yes, all children in grades K through 8th grade will receive a chromebook to take back and forth to school daily. Currently, all 2nd through 8th grade students have chromebooks to use. Chromebooks for kindergarten and first grade students have been ordered. Those devices may not arrive by the start of school. However, we are making contingency plans should the devices for K and 1st grade students not arrive in time for the start of school.
 
 
The district Educational Technology Coordinator, Technology Coach and Technology Teachers are creating professional development training for teachers to improve the quality of their virtual teaching.  Training will be provided before school starts, while school is in session (in the afternoons), and on an as needed basis.
 
 
Yes, we plan to set clear expectations for teachers so that there is consistency for the amount of live instruction, pre-recorded instruction, live office hours, grading, etc.
 
 
Our goal is to teach the full curriculum. However, due to the learning slowdown caused by remote learning last year, pacing guides are being adjusted to address this loss of learning. Based on this, we anticipate it taking more than just one school year to make up for this learning slowdown.
 
 
As mentioned above, pacing guides are being adjusted to address this issue.  Additionally, students will be screened in reading, writing, and math to determine where their skills are.  Remedial instruction will be provided to address these needs.
 
 
Yes, although some will be virtual and some will be in-person.
 
 
Teachers will be required to have daily live “office hours” to answer student and parent questions.
 
 
All IEPs and 504 Plans will be implemented to the greatest extent possible. Special education programs listed in the individual’s IEP will be provided in the documented setting, but following the A/B hybrid learning schedule. Related services (speech, OT, PT, etc.) will be provided using both in person and distance learning models.
 
 
Yes, our supervisor of operations and custodial staff are confident that they can keep up with the cleaning needs in the building with the A/B schedule.  Among other benefits, students being on an early dismissal schedule will provide custodians with additional time to sanitize and disinfect spaces.
 
 
  • Contact Tracing will begin immediately.
    • Contact tracing is the process used to identify those individuals who come into contact with people who have tested positive for a contagious disease.
    • Upon notification that staff or student has tested positive for COVID-19, the School Nurse will work with the local DOH to provide information to the DOH. This will include the schedule, attendance records, and person to person contact information of staff/students who were exposed by being with the individual within six feet for at least 15 minutes. Identified individuals may also include siblings.
    • FERPA permits disclosure of personally identifiable information in connection with an emergency if knowledge of the information is necessary to protect the health or safety of the student or other individuals. The Nurse must record and maintain the disclosure information and significant threat in each student/staff record.
    • Should notification occur after school hours, students and staff will be sent to an alternative location upon arrival at school until they can be picked up by a responsible adult.

  • All rooms used by the individual testing positive will be closed for 48 hours. After 24 hours the room can be cleaned and disinfected, as per the procedures set forth by the Facilities Director and according to CDC guidelines. If applicable, this includes a bus before it can be put back in service.
  • A letter will be sent to the parents/guardians of all students in the class, notifying them of the situation. Every attempt will be made to move the students to another room so in person learning can continue. If this is not possible, students will transition to remote instruction. Students on the child’s bus, if applicable, will also receive notification. If necessary, students will be moved to another bus. Confidentiality will be maintained.
  • Additional notification will be provided to those who have had close contact (within six feet for at least 10 minutes) to the person diagnosed with COVID-19, based on the results of contact tracing. This notification will direct the individual to stay home and self-monitor for symptoms for 14 calendar days. Distance learning instruction, if applicable, will be provided. Confidentiality will be maintained.
  • The individual who has tested positive may not attend school for at least 10 calendar days from the first onset of symptoms. The student must also be fever free without medication for the previous 24 hours and the majority of symptoms must be resolved. Distance learning instruction may be provided while the child is quarantined.
  • The School Nurse will require appropriate documentation (i.e., negative test results or note from the staff/student’s physician certifying the individual is contagion free) before readmitting to school.
  • If a household member is confirmed positive for COVID-19, the staff/student will be excluded from school for 14 calendar days.
 
 
State guidelines for reopening discourage large group gatherings (lunch in cafeteria and recess). Social distancing guidelines require 6 feet distancing between students and staff. It is impossible to honor either of those requirements when buildings are at full capacity (all students in-person). To provide appropriate social distancing, an A day/B day hybrid schedule becomes necessary. In this model, 50% of students attend in-person learning each day and 50% receive remote instruction each day. This format enables appropriate social distancing. However, teachers must straddle the demands of in-person teaching AND remote teaching. In order to do both jobs well, additional time is needed for teachers to prepare quality synchronous/asynchronous lessons for their remote students. It will also provide additional time for teachers to receive professional development on best practices for remote learning. Staff will have time to reflect, review, and revise both instruction and building safety procedures. An early dismissal schedule will also allow teachers to touch base and offer support to students on their non-attending day.
 
 
The early dismissal schedule helps custodians by giving them more time with students out of the building to thoroughly clean and sanitize daily. An “off” day is not needed to accomplish this task. Instructionally, the model described in the question above means students will not see their teacher for up to 5 days. For example, if students are in on Monday and Tuesday, they would not see their teacher in person for 5 days (the following Monday). Same with the Thursday/Friday group. The district felt that’s too long for students to be on remote learning. With the model being implemented, students see their teacher in person more regularly so instructional continuity will be stronger. There are usually only 2-3 days in between in-person learning except when there is a school closure for a holiday. There are also weeks when students will see their teacher on consecutive days. We felt this was better educationally.
 
 
We are attempting to provide this information to parents on or before August 14.
 
 
Students must stay in the model selected to start the school year until at least the end of the first marking period (November 10 for elementary schools and November 16 for middle school). Parents must notify their child’s principal at least 15 days prior to the start of the new marking period if such a switch is being requested.
 
 
Students in a 100% remote model will be receiving some live instruction in whole group and small group formats via Google Meet. There will also be asynchronous instruction.
 
 
The New Jersey Department of Education’s (NJDOE) “The Road Back” document requires 6 feet of social distancing in classrooms. Over 80% of parents selected the hybrid learning model. With that percentage of students returning to school, classrooms could not accommodate social distancing meeting the NJDOE requirement. Thus, students had to be split into the A/B cohorts so that appropriate social distancing could be achieved.
 
 
Yes, students will change classrooms at the end of each period. Schedules are staggered to reduce the number of students in the hallways. As students enter the new classroom, they will receive an EPA approved sanitizing wipe (for hard surfaces) to wipe down their own desk before using it.
 
 
Yes, we need all students enrolled in the Medford Township School District, regardless of hybrid or remote to complete the beginning of year forms for a number of reasons. One is because it is our collective hope that we return to some “normalcy” this year. If that is the case, we will need this important information. Another reason is because some of the forms are pertinent regardless of remote or hybrid instruction and is information that is required by the Department of Education.
 
 
 

Our central office and building staff members have been working very hard to call and secure a response from each and every family in our district.  As we wrap up the final handful of responses, here are the responses as of August 11, 2020.

 

Example:  A number of 72.55% for “Low” under Hybrid reflects that the school with the lowest number of hybrid responses has 72.55% of respondents selecting this option.

 

 

Hybrid

Remote

 

Low

High

Average

Low

High

Average

Grades K-5

 

72.55%

82.47%

78.52%

15.23%

21.45%

19.54%

Grades 6-8

 

 

 

84.39%

 

 

14.65%

District

 

 

80.23%

 

 

18.15%

 

Numbers not adding up to 100% result from both (a) rounding, and (b) students selecting a homeschool option.

 

 

As remote instruction relies heavily on a child's ability to connect with their teacher virtually, internet service in the home is a necessity.  We do have the side parking lot of Chairville Elementary School canvased with our MTPS network.  So, using your child's district issued device, they will be able to gain access to our network and internet service outside Chairville.  In addition, Comcast Internet Essentials is a program that offers families in need very low cost internet service, which includes 2-months free.  Learn more at https://www.internetessentials.com/ or view the flyer in English and Spanish by clicking here.
 
 
Results of technology testing, feedback from parents, discussions with teachers, and brainstorming with administrators have led us to the conclusion that teachers should have the professional discretion to decide if a lesson will be live streamed via Google Meet or pre-recorded using Screencastify. These decisions depend on the content being taught, the needs of the learners, the teacher’s comfort level with synchronous vs. asynchronous instruction and other factors. All remote students will have dedicated time each day for live Goggle Meets with their teacher(s) for small group instruction, to get questions answered, and to receive additional help. This will occur EVERY DAY.
 
 
Our Supervisor of Language Arts and our reading specialists are working on a format so that 100% remote students can be benchmarked. Will remote students be given live guided reading and if so, how many times per week? Yes, we are planning on 1-2 times per week. How will they be given access to the guided reading books? We are working on securing online sources that will provide remote learners access to leveled text electronically.
 
 
Yes, your building principal will be communicating about a pick-up process for learning materials and chromebooks that will take place the last week in August.
 
 
We have two types of assistants. The predominant type are those who are hired due to special education IEP needs. The second type are those “general” assistants hired for kindergarten and first grade classrooms. In kindergarten and first grade classes, assistants can work with all students. In a class that has students with IEPs, it is possible that the assistant would work with a variety of students, not just IEP children. However, students with IEPs are given priority in these cases.
 
 
No, remote students will be part of a homeroom from day 1. That homeroom will be a combination of hybrid and 100% remote students. Plus, on any given day, 100% remote students will be learning with the A/B students who are on their remote day.
 
 
The state does not have a curriculum. They issue New Jersey Student Learning Standards (NJSLS). These standards have not changed due to the pandemic.
 
 
Pacing of the curriculum in reading/writing/math/science has been modified to reflect students being in remote learning since March of last year. The actual content has not been modified other than routine updates or revisions that take place regularly.
 
 
We are identifying students that are behind and working to put remedial efforts into place. The hybrid model and those selecting 100% remote learning make this task even more challenging. It is impossible to say how long it will take. This depends largely on individual student needs and abilities.
 
 
Yes.
 
 
Yes, they will be assigned a teacher from their home school and be part of a homeroom from the first day of school.
 
 
At this time, we are restricting any outside visitors other than staff, students, and those parents who might have a meeting in the building. We need to do this to keep everybody as safe as possible.
 
 
Currently, we are not considering this. However, we are watching the situation closely to see if anything changes that would indicate this is a direction that needs to be taken.
 
 
The early dismissal schedule for all schools is listed below:
 
  • Haines/Memorial: 7:40-11:50 a.m.
  • Cranberry Pines/Taunton Forge: 8:15 a.m. – 12:25 p.m.
  • Chairville/Allen/Kirby’s Mill: 8:50 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.
 
For more detailed information, visit our Early Dismissal Schedule page.
 
 
An email communication was sent out to all families on August 21, 2020.  Those communications, along with all communications we have sent out since the beginning of COVID-19 can be found on our COVID-19 Information Site. A sample instructional schedule can be found on this site and is called "MTPS Hybrid Plan".
 
 
The plan has been submitted and it was approved by the Burlington County Executive Superintendent.
 
 
This is a public health question, not a public education question. The Burlington County Health Department and/or the New Jersey Department of Health will notify us when it is safe for students to attend every day. This will hinge primarily on the relaxation or elimination of the social distancing requirements. Full day will not take place until the governor has determined that 100% virtual learning will no longer be offered OR the number of 100% virtual learners becomes so small that teachers will not need the afternoon time to address the needs of these students.
 
 
No, the other schools will continue with the hybrid model and only the impacted school will shift to 100% remote learning.
 
 
There are several reasons:
 
1. The state has learning standards that we are mandated to address in Health/PE as well as Visual and Performing Arts (art and music).
 
2. These standards are not optional.
 
3. The district values health/PE and the arts in creating well rounded learners. Research is clear that these areas contribute in a positive way to academic learning.
 
4. Students need a break/change of pace from academic subjects. Art, music, and PE provide these important breaks
 
 
While you are welcome to use a personal device, please note that your child must log into the device with their Medford account. Additionally, we are not able to troubleshoot or help you use or navigate personal devices. Finally, as we learned at the end of last year, personal devices sometimes have filters, anti-virus software, or other settings that interfere with tools that we use for our instruction. To avoid this situation, we suggest it is best to pick up a district device and use it for remote learning.
 
 
Overall, this is the district goal.  Initially, it would be necessary to keep the early dismissal in place to provide teachers with time to accommodate the 100% remote students.  District administration and teacher teams are currently working on a plan to address bringing our kindergarten students back to school for five days of in-person learning.  We are hoping to be able to share these plans with kindergarten parents to get their feedback.  Additionally, we hope to share more information at the November 16 BOE Meeting.
 
 
Although our infection data is relatively low, we have only been in school for 38 days as of the end of October.  With case rates rising in NJ, our leadership team feels it is too risky to move in this direction (barriers with under six feet of social distancing) now.  In addition, the Burlington County Health Department is recommending against distancing less than 6 feet even WITH barriers. Ultimately, we will need the support of the parents, BOE members, principals and teachers before moving ahead with this.  We hope to use the infection and transmission data over the next few weeks to guide our decision making in this area.
 
 
Private schools can say NO to enrollment, thus capping their class sizes such that six feet of social distancing can be maintained.  As a public school district, we cannot cap enrollment. We have researched and/or contacted a number of public districts in New Jersey that were reported to us as having all students in school five days per week.  In each of these instances the information was either not true or their class sizes were small enough to maintain proper social distancing.
 
 

Contact tracing enables the district to minimize the possible spread of the virus by determining who may be at risk and who needs to quarantine.  This is required by the Governor’s Office, the NJDOE, and the Burlington County Health Department.

 

 

The school district’s goal is to stay open as long as we have sufficient staff regardless if illnesses are caused by the flu or COVID-19. The only other reason the district would close is if the Burlington County Health Department ordered the district to go to full remote instruction.  The district will request that students/staff get tested for COVID to be safe, however, legally, the district cannot require it.