Roadmap Back To School


To ensure our community has the latest communications around school reopening, this page provides all updates from Superintendent Betze and the Robbinsville Board of Education.

__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

August 26, 2020

Dear Parents and Guardians,

After much consternation and deliberation, the decision has been made for our students in grades 6-12 to go fully remote until Monday, October 12. 2020.  Pk-5 will remain in the hybrid/100% remote model, as detailed in our reopening plan.  Additionally, our self-contained students’ schedules Pk-12 will not be altered by this decision.  My expectation is for teachers not approved for leaves to be working from his or her classroom following the schedules provided by your principal.  Our schools are safe and ready for the youngest students and staff to begin the 2020-2021 school year in-person.

Robbinsville is facing the same challenges of hundreds of other similar districts in New Jersey, as we all struggle with the challenges of reopening our district.  Due, in large part, to local districts’ decisions to change their plans and close their schools to in-person instruction, we are forced to make this change.  Family comes first, so with these districts making a change, a number of our teachers with young children living in those communities made the difficult decision to take authorized and permissible leaves to care for their families.  Although our safety and health protocols are in-place, staffing, unfortunately, became the straw breaking the back of our reopening plan for grades 6-12.

There is still a chance that, by working with our new substitute provider and implementing a few other initiatives, we may be able to procure enough substitutes to still offer the hybrid model to one or more grades 6-12 by September 8th and phase in other grades soon thereafter.  As I have stated before, every day brings new challenges needing innovative resolutions.  However, as it stands today, we need to adjust grades 6-12 to be fully remote until October 12. Pk-5 and self-contained Prek-12 schedules will not be altered.

Anticipating September as typically very warm, the date of October 12 was selected due to the weather becoming cooler at this time, allowing for those affected schools in nearby towns to open windows and improve the learning environment.  The hope is that when they can open, our teachers’ children will return to school, allowing our staff to resume working here in Robbinsville.

Not wanting to be beholden to other districts’ decisions again, the administration will be utilizing our resources to procure certified substitutes, if needed, and implementing new initiatives to support teachers as we focus all our efforts on phasing in grades 6-12 over the next few weeks with a goal of opening all grades for the hybrid option on October 12.  I am confident, without unforeseen variables, we can meet our goal of opening our 6-12 grades to the hybrid model at that time.  We will be closely monitoring the situation and communicating with our stakeholders throughout the month of September.

Once again, grades Pre-K-5 will attend school following a hybrid schedule beginning on September 8, 2020, while grades 6-12 (except for those students in self-contained classrooms) will be working remotely until Monday, October 12, 2020.  Additional information and details will be forthcoming from our building principals.  Thank you, and please contact my office if you have any questions.

 

Sincerely,

 

Brian J. Betze

Superintendent


__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

August 25, 2020

Dear Parents, Guardians, and Staff,

You may have seen or heard reports or rumors over the last day in social media stating that the Robbinsville School District intends to formally cancel the fall sports season at tonight's Board of Education meeting.  First, let me state clearly that our Board of Education, our coaching staff, and I are all personally committed to offering robust sports programs. We firmly believe sports and other extracurricular activities play a critical role in a well-rounded educational experience. None of us are wanting or advocating for the cancellation of sports, even under current conditions.

As you may be aware, many school districts, colleges, and universities, various athletic conferences, and other similar athletic organizations have announced plans to cancel fall sports in 2020 due to concerns about the spreading of COVID-19.  A few districts in our immediate area, including West Windsor, New Egypt, and Princeton, have already announced cancellation plans, with others making the call in the near future.

At tonight's BOE meeting, with so many unknowns about the viability of having a meaningful sports program and the wellness of our coaches and student-athletes at the forefront of our actions this fall, our BOE will vote on a phased-in approach which supports a fall sports program.  In most years, under normal circumstances, the stipends for coaching salaries are approved all at one time for the upcoming sports season. This year, with so many unknowns, rather than approving the payment schedule all at once, the Board will vote on a plan that offers a phased-in approach.  This plan will allow coaches to possibly start practices following guidance from the NJDoE and the NJSIAA. In the meantime, it gives our District a little more time to evaluate what is happening with sports within other schools in Mercer County, in our conferences, and in this region to determine whether it is viable to have a meaningful and realistic fall sports season, with actual games.  

Officially, under NJSIAA guidance, practices in our District cannot start until September 14, with a shortened game schedule beginning on or around October 1. Following our additional research and review, if we determine in the next few weeks that enough comparable schools are moving ahead with an actual game schedule, I will ask our Board to meet emergently in mid-September to approve the full coaching stipends, a move that will allow this already abbreviated season to move forward. 

Again, all of us in the District, including our staff, administration, and our BoE are committed to a vigorous and healthy sports programs.  In this highly unusual year, we are taking all factors into consideration and are moving prudently with what we know at this time.

 

Thank you for your interest,

 

Brian Betze

Superintendent and the Robbinsville Board of Education

__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

August 13, 2020

Dear Robbinsville Community,

As you likely know, Governor Murphy changed his position this week in that he’s agreeable to allow schools the option of only offering a remote learning program this Fall. Over the past few months, our District has spent many hours and thousands of dollars, ensuring we offer options for our students and their families. We universally feel that this multi-faceted approach should continue. We live in unprecedented times, and the health and safety of our students and staff is a top priority. We’re proud that our District and community worked hard to “slow the spread.” As parents and guardians and residents, we sacrificed, we social distanced, and we did our part. And it has worked. We have flattened the curve. We have seen our numbers plummet.

But we have also seen other things. We have seen our children – especially those in special education -- fall further behind. Some question whether they’ll ever fully recover all that they lost while schools closed. We have also seen the economic gap widen as children who do not have the option for remote learning and have poor home conditions fall further behind. Schools do more than educate. They provide safe places for children to go, facilitate relationships with others for their socio-emotional health, and provide a sense of community. They provide a variety of speech, physical, and occupational therapy options for those who need it. They also offer meals to children who don’t have enough food in their homes.

As a Board, we are deeply concerned for the well-being of all children in the event schools are fully closed, and there is no hybrid option. The decision to open schools should not be a political one. If we don’t open schools now when it is relatively safe, when will we ever be able to re-open? Essential businesses and some non-essential businesses are permitted to re-open with certain precautions, including amusement parks, public parks, ball fields, and other related facilities. Schools are essential to our community, and for the mental and physical well-being of children and their development. We believe in-person education is necessary for some of our student population to receive a thorough and efficient education. This may not be the choice that every family makes, and that’s fine. We, as a Board, believe opening schools with a hybrid approach should be an option for those who want it.

As members of the Robbinsville Board of Education, we fully support Superintendent Brian Betze’s decision to move forward with a hybrid-approach to opening schools. This plan was presented to our community a couple of weeks ago. While it’s still a work in progress, we universally believe it’s headed in the right direction. We know none of this is easy. These are difficult decisions. However, leadership requires tough decisions, especially when it comes to the well-being and advancement of children in our society.

Our Board is united in that we want what’s best for Robbinsville’s students --- all of our students and whatever decision or option is best for them and their families. We look forward to continuing to work with our School’s dedicated administration, teachers, and staff who want nothing more than to ensure our schools offer robust programs, multiple options, and a path for all to succeed. Thank you, and God bless our School District and all those who help make it successful.

 

Sincerely,

 

The Robbinsville Board of Education

Scott Veisz, President

Craig Heilman, Vice-President

Shaina Ciaccio

Sharon Devito

Christopher Emigholz

Vito Galluccio

Jane Luciano

Lisa Temple

Rich Young

__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

August 13, 2020 

Dear Parents and Guardians,

I hope this letter finds everyone healthy and safe as the start of the new school year is less than one month away.   Please consider this correspondence as a short update to where we stand as a school district regarding our 2020-2021 school year.  Obviously, many, if not all, of you are anxious about what September will look like regarding the safe opening of school. 

Like everyone else, I have been reading a plethora of articles, hearing all types of rumors and contemplating the speculation revolving around if, when and how schools in New Jersey will open this fall.  The final decision may eventually still be taken from our hands, but, as of today, the district will open for both hybrid and remote instruction on September 8th as stipulated in our reopening plan.  Our approach is to execute our “Reopening Plan” as designed and advance both the hybrid and full-remote options. The administrative team, along with staff and parents, has been feverishly and methodically developing the protocols which serve as the backbone of a safe and secure opening. 

On August 12, 2020, Governor Murphy announced school districts that cannot meet all health and safety standards will have the option to offer only remote instruction.  The first tenant we used in creating our plan was health and safety above all others.  According to the New Jersey Department of Health, as of today, the infection average for 100,000 people was at 4 in New Jersey (Mercer County is at 3) and the daily infection rate of transmission was .92 which places our state in the yellow stage, the second safest level.  These metrics, along with our strict protocols including daily screenings of staff and students, ongoing cleaning and sanitizing, mandated face coverings, upgrading of ventilation filters, and a host of others indicate we are safe and will not be deviating from our original plan.

Of particular the importance is staffing our classrooms as this may become a problem and eventually lead to the closing of schools since we will not be able to maintain the safety protocols we have put in place.  If other neighboring districts decide to go fully remote, our ability to adequately staff our schools will be greatly impacted by staff living in those districts needing to take childcare leaves.  This has the potential to force us to also go 100% remote.  Please note that this does not mean our staff commitment to the safe reopening of the district is in question.  On the contrary, the administration is working closely with the staff to determine those who have medical conditions and those who meet legal requirements for leaves of absence. Our teachers want to be back with their students as long as our schools are safe.  Administratively, we are monitoring this issue daily.

Assuming a September 8th opening, the following information is meant to update you as to where we stand at this point.

  • The designation of the cohorts (R’Ville or Strong) for the hybrid model will be communicated to parents early next week for all K-8 students.
  • High School student schedules will be live on August 17.  An email with detailed information will be sent on August 14 from the counseling department.
  • Designated cohort assignments for the hybrid model for the high school students will be distributed during the week of August 24. School counselors will need to work through schedule changes prior to cohort assignments.
  • All staff coming into our schools will be completing the “COVID Entrance Survey” beginning on August 17th.
  • All parents will be required to complete a “COVID Student Entrance Survey” each day your child(ren) come to school.  Directions will be provided before the start of the school year on how to access this survey via the Genesis Parent Portal.
  • School opening informational virtual meetings will be held at 7:00 PM on the following dates*:

                             8/24/20: Sharon Elementary School

                             8/26/20: Pond Middle School

                              8/27/20: Robbinsville High School

*These sessions are meant to provide more clarity around the “day in the life” at each school (for example, schedules, home room teachers, etc.) and answer your questions around this topic. Sign-on information will be forthcoming.

            Thank you in advance for your patience and understanding while we continue to work through the complexities of this undertaking.  If you have any questions, concerns or comments, please feel free to contact my office (609) 632-0910 or betze.brian@robbinsville.k12.nj.us.

Very truly yours,

Brian J. Betze

Superintendent


A Letter from the Robbinsville Board of Education

Dear Robbinsville Community,

As you likely know, Governor Murphy changed his position this week in that he’s agreeable to allow schools the option of only offering a remote learning program this Fall. Over the past few months, our District has spent many hours and thousands of dollars ensuring we offer options for our students and their families. We universally feel that this multi-faceted approach should continue.

We live in unprecedented times and the health and safety of our students and staff is a top priority. We’re proud that our District and community worked hard to “slow the spread.” As parents and guardians and residents, we sacrificed, we social distanced, and we did our part. And it has worked. We have flattened the curve. We have seen our numbers plummet.

 

But we have also seen other things. We have seen our children – especially those in special education -- fall further behind. Some question whether they’ll ever fully recover all that they lost while schools closed. We have also seen the economic gap widen as children who do not have the option for remote learning and have poor home conditions fall further behind. Schools do more than educate. They provide safe places for children to go, facilitate relationships with others for their socio-emotional health, and provide a sense of community. They provide a variety of speech, physical, and occupational therapy options for those who need it. They also offer meals to children who don’t have enough food in their homes.

 

As a Board, we are deeply concerned for the well-being of all children in the event schools are fully closed, and there is no hybrid option. The decision to open schools should not be a political one. If we don’t open schools now when it is relatively safe, when will we ever be able to re-open? Essential businesses and some non-essential businesses are permitted to re-open with certain precautions, including amusement parks, public parks, ball fields, and other related facilities. Schools are essential to our community, and for the mental and physical well-being of children and their development. We believe in-person education is necessary for some of our student population to receive a thorough and efficient education. This may not be the choice that every family makes, and that’s fine. We, as a Board, believe opening schools with a hybrid approach should be an option for those who want it.

 

As members of the Robbinsville Board of Education, we fully support Superintendent Brian Betze’s decision to move forward with a hybrid-approach to opening schools; the plan that was presented to our community a couple of weeks ago. While it’s still a work in progress, we universally believe it’s headed in the right direction. We know none of this is easy. These are difficult decisions. However, leadership requires tough decisions, especially when it comes to the well-being and advancement of children in our society.

 

Our Board is united in that we want what’s best for Robbinsville’s students --- all of our students, and whatever decision or option is best for them and their families. We look forward to continue working with our School’s dedicated administration, teachers and staff who want nothing more than to ensure our schools offer robust programs, multiple options, and a path for all to succeed.

 

Thank you, and God bless our School District and all those who help make it successful.

 

Sincerely,

 

The Robbinsville Board of Education

Scott Veisz, President

Craig Heilman, Vice-President

Shaina Ciaccio

Sharon Devito

Christopher Emigholz

Vito Galluccio

Jane Luciano

Lisa Temple

Rich Young

 

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________


August 8, 2020


Check out the Reopening Q and A section of our website to find the latest Q&A document from Superintendent Betze on our Reopening Plan. 


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July 31, 2020

Thank you to everyone who joined us last night during our virtual "Robbinsville Schools Reopening Plan - Q&A with Brian and Kim" meeting. We had over 500 attendees from the community participate and offer great questions for our plan on reopening school this fall. If you weren't able to listen in, click the link below to access the video recording of the meeting.



If you have additional questions about the reopening plan, please email us at reopenquestions@robbinsville.k12.nj.us. Also visit our Reopening Q&A page for all the questions we have received.

__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

July 29, 2020

During the July monthly board meeting, Superintendent Betze and Dr. Tew presented Robbinsville School District's plan for reopening our schools. Below is a link to their presentation.

Robbinsville Reopening Plan Presentation

Mr. Betze and Dr. Tew will hold a virtual meeting on Thursday, July 30 at 7pm to discuss the reopening plan as well as respond to the community thoughts and questions. To register your attendance, please click here. We also ask that you submit your questions to reopenquestions@robbinsville.k12.nj.us prior to the meeting to help streamline the meeting. There will also be time for live questions and answers as well.

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July 24, 2020 Clarity on Hybrid Schedules

Dear Parents and Guardians,

We apologize for the confusion our previous hybrid schedule modules have caused.  Below are the accurate two-week schedules for both A and B groups. Schedules will remain the same for each group Monday through Thursday; the only day that will change (in-person vs. remote) is Friday for both groups.

Two Week A Schedule:

 

Monday

Tuesday

Wednesday

Thursday

Friday

Week 1

A

in-person

A

in-person

A

remote

A

remote

A

in-person

Week 2

A

in-person

A

in-person

A

remote

A

remote

A

remote


Two Week B Schedule:

 

Monday

Tuesday

Wednesday

Thursday

Friday

Week 1

B

remote

B

remote

B

in-person

B

in-person

B

remote

Week 2

B

remote

B

remote

B

in-person

B

in-person

B

in-person

As a reminder, parents will be receiving an email via the Genesis Parent Portal today, Friday, July 24 with four questions. Surveys must be completed for each child and is due by July 31st for all students.  

Thank you,

Brian Betze
Superintendent


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July 23, 2020 Letter from Superintendent Betze

Dear Parents and Guardians,

Now that a 100% virtual learning option is available for September, parents will be receiving an email via the Genesis Parent Portal on Friday, July 24th asking the below four questions:

  1. Will your son/daughter be attending school in September via the 100% virtual learning option?  Your selection is permanent for the first trimester for Sharon E.S. and the first semester for Pond M.S. and Robbinsville H.S.
  2. Do you need a device to connect to the Internet for remote instruction?
  3. Do you need assistance (hotspot, wi-fi) accessing the Internet?
  4. If you are selecting the hybrid 50% in school instruction/ 50% virtual instruction plan, will your child(ren) need transportation to and/or from school?

The questionnaire must be completed for each child and is due July 31st for all students.

Please understand the "100% virtual learning" option will look different than before.  Students will be held thoroughly accountable for attending and being engaged in all classes daily, following a traditional early dismissal schedule, in order for this option to count toward compulsory attendance laws.

The hybrid (part in-school instruction, part virtual instruction) option will have students broken into two cohorts (A and B), each following a set schedule rotating each week.  All days are early dismissal days.  Some students with an IEP and other groups may follow different schedules.  This schedule MAY change and is dependent on the number of students choosing 100% virtual.  The more 100% virtual learning increases the possibility of offering more in-person classes. Below is an example of the hybrid instructional model.

 

Format

Monday

Tuesday

Wednesday

Thursday

Friday

In-person

A

A

B

B

A

Remote

A

A

B

B

B

I know you probably have many questions, and the turn-around time for this survey is tight.  I will go into the reopening plan in a little more detail at next week’s Board of Education meeting, which takes place on July 28th at 7:00 PM in the high school auditorium.  Also, a presentation of the plan is scheduled for July 30th at 7:00 PM.  This meeting will be held 100% virtually with information on how to log-on forthcoming. We encourage you to attend these presentations to help in answering questions you may have.  

Thank you for your understanding, flexibility and patience as we work through the myriad of issues surrounding the opening of school.  

Sincerely, 

Brian Betze
Superintendent



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July 17 Letter from Superintendent Betze


Dear Parents and Guardians, 

Over the past few weeks, the Robbinsville Public Schools’ administrative team has been planning for the opening of school for this coming September.  I would like to take this opportunity to update our stakeholders on the reopening plan and share the timeline for communicating the final version.  Please keep in mind things are changing seemingly by the day, so flexibility is key as we prepared for the upcoming school year.

To make the multitude of decisions associated with the reopening of our schools and have students and staff return to teaching and learning in the safest environment possible, the district has used staff and parent surveys to chart the course for decision-making.  While working to finalize our plan, we are utilizing four tenets to guide our decision.  We know no plan is perfect, and whatever is decided upon will still cause some issues with staff, families, and students.  Therefore, we will be choosing the option which will best reflect the reopening model following these key tenets: 

  1. Health and Safety of Students and Staff:  It is imperative to make decisions that will keep the health and safety of our children and staff members at the forefront of our plan.
  2. Most Vulnerable Students Take Precedent: The overall plan will take into consideration the need for all students to be back in front of a teacher as much as possible, given the current health situation at the time of reopening.  However, special consideration will be provided to students who would most benefit from in-person instruction on a daily basis. 
  3. Consideration of Childcare and Supervision: Understanding the necessity of childcare and supervision, our reopening plan will support family members in different grades to allow them to follow the same schedules, regardless of the attending school.  Modifications to the R.E.D. program’s offerings have also been considered to support families.
  4. Instructional Practices: An instructional model for our students which will reflect the best practices, given the current conditions, and support learning at an optimum level will also guide the final choice of a learning model for the new school year. 

In order to help you, parents, to start planning for September, the following are general features of the overall plan:

  • All days will be early dismissal days (although the normal times may change due to the need to disinfect buses between each run);
  • The entire student body will be split in half (keeping families together) with students following a set schedule each week where one half is in-person and the other half working remotely;
  • Each classroom will be equipped with a safety kit, including masks, gloves, hand sanitizers, etc.
  • Masks and hand sanitizer will be added to supply lists for all students in September;
  • Each day, parents will be required to complete a short health screening checklist on each of their children and send it electronically back to the district.  Staff will be doing the same;
  • In early August, parents will be asked, via a survey, to decide on a few items including the need for district transportation and sending your child(ren) back in September.*

*As it stands today, a parent does not have the option of keeping their child home for 100% virtual learning.  I know some districts have included this option in their plans; however, the mandate received from the NJDoE this week does not allow for this option.  Many superintendents and school-related organizations are actively petitioning the governor to change his decision on this topic.  If this changes, we will readjust our plan’s offerings.

Over the next two weeks, I will be sharing our draft plan to the Board of Education and other staff members in order to gauge their perspectives and thoughts.  The attendance process, instructional schedules, and detailed highlights of the plan will be presented at the July 28th Board of Education meeting and then communicated to the entire district, including parents and staff members.  This timeframe will provide staff a full month to put into place the details of the plan and parents to prepare their children for the opening of school on September 8th

As always, thank you for your patience as we all deal with the uncertainties around us.  Please rest assured we are doing everything possible to make the opening of the 2020-2021 school year as safe and successful as possible. 

Sincerely, 

Brian J. Betze

Superintendent 

 

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