the staff of the Ridgewood blog
Ridgewood NJ, at the Monday night School Board meeting ,Dr. Fishbein began by stating that Governor Murphy has closed schools for students for the remainder of the 2019-20 school year and that students would finish the year via virtual home instruction. He expressed that no one wants to be back in the schools more than educators. Dr. Fishbein thanked the teachers for their hard work and commitment and expressed they have done an amazing job planning and executing virtual learning for our students. Acknowledging the challenges of remote instruction, he reiterated that educators would prefer to be in school with their students and to celebrate all of the end-of-year traditions that are being impacted by the current public health crisis.
In light of the current circumstances, Dr. Fishbein presented a revised 2019-2020 calendar for approval. He reminded everyone that the March Professional Development Day was canceled, which gave us 22 school days in March; additionally, the three give-back, snow days built into the calendar were not used. Therefore, Dr. Fishbein proposed moving the snow days to the end of the year, making the last day of school for students June 17. The last day for teachers would be June 18, and June 19 would be used as a PD Day for the faculty members who have yet to fulfill their professional development obligations. To give teachers an opportunity to reflect upon the virtual learning experience, the Professional Development Day plans have been adjusted. Approximately 150 educators will engage in focus groups for the purpose of conducting a careful analysis of the home instruction plan, reflecting upon successes and areas for improvement, as well as considering what needs to be done in preparation for the school year. While this will be a good representation of instructors at all levels, we will also be seeking input from the entire teaching staff.
Dr. Fishbein explained that since we have a definitive answer about the continuation of remote instruction for the remainder of the year, we can start to focus on the plans for next year. Furthermore, building administrators can begin to address the many tasks involved with ending a school year, all of which will be a challenge and will require a significant amount of planning and organization, particularly pivotal milestone ceremonies such as high school graduation and promotion ceremonies. All administrators are working on virtual alternatives. Dr. Fishbein expressed that he, Dr. Gorman, and other high school administrators would love to be able to hold a more traditional ceremony in July or August. However, given the uncertainty of the near future and the guidelines that may be in place at that time, they feel it is important to proceed with plans for a virtual ceremony, while also exploring other options for a more traditional ceremony during the summer or over the Thanksgiving weekend. Dr. Fishbein added that we are willing to attempt anything, as long as it can be done safely and according to the guidelines. Dr. Fishbein remarked that the Governor may be providing guidance for graduation ceremonies.