NEWARK, NJ – There may have been heavy rain over Brick City on Monday morning, but nearly 14,500 Newark Public Schools returning to the classroom for the first time in over a year didn’t let the wet weather dampen them.
Along with district officials, educators, and support staff, there was pure joy on the faces of students, especially First Avenue Elementary School, as they waited in line to return to their desks, dizzy bouncing up and down, laughing, and with their classmates .
“It’s really exciting. It feels like the first day of school in September,” said Elena Baer, literacy trainer at First Avenue School.
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The return to school marks the implementation of a hybrid / personal teaching model in the district, with students coming to campus on either Mondays and Tuesdays or Thursdays and Fridays and learning remotely on Wednesdays.
Baer held a bottle of hand sanitizer and, as part of the district’s new entry procedure, according to the strict security protocol of COVID-19, distributed gel into each student’s hands before being allowed into the main school entrance.
When they stood in front of the school, the students took part in symptom screening, temperature control, shoe disinfection, and hand disinfection to be admitted. This procedure is just one of several protocols that district officials have put in place to ensure a safe return to school buildings.
Newark Public Schools Superintendent Roger León greeted First Avenue staff and students who had opted for the hybrid model starting this week, and said that while he was happy to finally see students inside the buildings again, their reaction However, the district will also benefit from the new adjustments with critical information.
Among the students’ responses, the school principal stated that district officials will pay attention to certain patterns of behavior and assess how each child benefits from tutoring, direct education services and resources to determine how schools are adapting during the pandemic.
“It is an opportunity for us to run quality controls to see where we are and what else we need to do,” he said. “How we prepare for summer and the next school year – all of this gives us enough data to see what adjustments need to be made, what works and what needs to be clarified.”
With strict security protocols and procedures to follow, the superintendent determined that the district will be ready to cease operations by closing an office, classroom, or entire school if necessary.
“There are safeguards in place to protect all students and staff, and we have no problem getting this through,” he said. “What lies ahead of us are the unknowns. The reality of having the children in front of us to see what every child needs. ”
As long as the schools remain open, however, the opportunity to work in person again offers important one-to-one lessons for educators.
Separated from her students for over a year, First Avenue Pre-K teacher Diana Laracuente-Stecz said it will be crucial for her students to be back in the classroom while they work on interacting and engaging engage while following the COVID-19 protocol.
“I was nervous this morning, but I’m so excited to finally be here with my students,” she said. “The main focus is on the social component … Even if they have to stay two meters apart, my goal is that they make contacts and cooperate, take turns and work together by the end of the year.”