On May 4, Governor Murphy announced the closure of New Jersey schools for the remainder of the 2019-2020 academic year. In Middletown, and surely across the state, this decision brings some amount of closure to the uncertainty that has hung over our schools, and allows administrators and building-level personnel to design and execute plans to celebrate our departing seniors, rising eighth-graders, and other classes marking academic milestones.
Unfortunately, it also realizes the bittersweet reality of canceled proms, plays, concerts, ceremonies, games and meets.
While we mourn the losses that school closure has presented us, we cannot lose sight of the problem that now presents itself for September 2020. We must be able to open our schools safely. The logistics facing our Board of Education and school administration are daunting. There are many concerns: How do we transport students safely? How do we seat them in classrooms?
How do they change classes and access lockers? How do they conduct gym class? Will masks be required in the schools? Who supplies them? What if a student falls ill, or their family member falls ill?
Conducting learning and supporting our staff and students in such an environment is unprecedented in our lifetimes, and we must get it right. To that end, we are making clear that we are looking to the state Board of Education and our elected officials in Trenton to show clear, strong leadership in this matter. They must avail themselves of the best science and information and spare no expense in devising a plan to safely and confidently open and operate schools in New Jersey. They must communicate vvith us clearly and openly throughout the summer, and they must seek input from our representatives in order to arrive at decisions acceptable to our community.
Middletown and all of New Jersey have shown great resolve in facing this pandemic. We are, and always will be, a state that comes together in times of trouble and shows the rest of the countiy what true community looks like. We look forward to solving the next set of challenges together.
Middletown Township Board of Education