August 21, 2020
Dear Parents/Guardians, Faculty, and Staff,
On August 10, 2020, my executive team presented the district’s reopening plan at the Board of Education Meeting, detailing in-person hybrid and remote options beginning on September 8, 2020. At the time of the presentation, I stated that we were confident that our schools could safely reopen but would consider a fully remote start should risk factors become too high. Since then, as reported by the Clifton Health Department, cases of COVID-19 continue to rise around the nation, specifically in Clifton, where 33% of new cases have been among children between the ages of 9 months and 19 years old. Nationally, multiple states where schools had reopened, have had to cancel in-person instruction after reopening because students and teachers tested positive for COVID. In one Georgia High School, 500 students were forced to quarantine after 25 of them tested positive. Now many of these schools are switching from in-person instruction and going fully online.
As a result, and out of an abundance of caution, Clifton Public Schools will temporarily begin the school year with all remote learning. We will re-evaluate conditions on October 1, 2020, with a possible reopening for in-person instruction on October 12, 2020. This decision was not made lightly and came with much deliberation and collaboration with the Board of Education and local health officials. We recognize the challenges that this places on our students, staff, and families, and we share in your frustration. However, we based this difficult decision on the safety, security, and well-being of our students and staff.
The Reopening Committee spent months preparing for a safe and educationally sound reopening plan to accommodate families who chose in-person instruction and families who preferred a remote-only start. Our steadfast commitment to the safety and security of our students and their families has been a guiding factor throughout the process. While we recognize that nothing compares to the benefits of in-person instruction, we must remain vigilant in providing an educational environment with our children’s health and safety as our priority. Governor Murphy’s recent statement has afforded districts the ability to begin the 2020-2021 school year remotely. This reprieve provides us with more time to prepare for a safer in-person opening.
The emotional and physical well-being of our students and staff is paramount, particularly during these unpredictable times. A full-remote opening is not the optimal solution for many families; however, we feel this is the safest decision for our school community. You will receive more information from the district outlining the details of the full-remote learning plan. Please be aware that the reopening plan is subject to change based on guidance from the New Jersey Department of Education or by changing circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Lastly, I understand the challenges that this situation presents for many families in our community. We are gathering resources that may be of value. Please check our website, email, and social media for resources to help our families through this next phase.
Dr. Danny A. Robertozzi,
Superintendent, Clifton Public Schools
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