The Sussex-Wantage Regional School District has been moving ahead more slowly and cautiously than originally planned. But Superintendent Michael Gall said at the Jan. 28 Board of Education meeting that the district was moving in the right direction.
“One of the challenges we’re facing is that we’re still in orange,” which the high-risk level for Covid-19. Gall said. “Yellow is a very doable scenario.”
New guidance from the New Jersey Department of Health indicates that school districts no longer have to contract-trace Covid-compatible symptoms like coughs and fevers. Under the previous measures, anyone listed as a contact would have had to isolate and take a test.
Contact tracing will now be done only if someone tests positive for Covid-19.
“That has the ability to cripple your operation,” Gall said. “It wasn’t the Covid that was compromising us, but it was operating around the quarantining guidelines.”
The district is still working toward four-day instruction with merged cohorts. It has asked parents to offer input and is seeking more representatives on the district’s Pandemic Response team.
The next meeting for each school is Thursday at 4 p.m.
The district is also conducting an anonymous survey of stakeholders and anonymous Sussex Middle School students about their remote instruction schedule preferences. That survey can be found at https://forms.gle/3QnWxhf7cHPcMrRRA.
The district is focusing on merging the cohorts because the Department of Health says that mask and barriers can work as mitigating factors and with those factors in place, schools can be safe.
The Department of Health also reported that schools are not the epicenter of outbreaks.
“Our cohort sizes will be pretty large when we merge them so we should have measures in place,” Gall said.
The biggest challenge will be a combined lunch due to the number of students in a cafeteria, who will have to take the masks off to eat.
“That was a challenge in our opening process,” Gall said. “I think that’s a challenge you’re seeing in large schools where everyone eats lunches at the same time.”
“That has the ability to cripple your operation. It wasn’t the Covid that was compromising us, but it was operating around the quarantining guidelines.” Superintendent Michael Gall