Robbinsville Public Schools Switch Temporarily Switch To Remote/Virtual Learning, Taking COVID-19 Precautions

March 13, 2020

ROBBINSVILLE, NJ (MERCER)–See note below from Kathie Foster, Superintendent of Robbinsville Schools about switching to remote/virtual learning due to COVID-19 precautions:

Dear Parents and Community Members,

Effective Monday, March 16, 2020, the Robbinsville Public School District will shut down its physical plant and activate remote/virtual learning for instruction. This was a multi-faceted decision made in collaboration with the County Health Officer and Mercer County Superintendents and based upon growing research indicating that social distancing is the only strategy that currently impacts the eventual spread of COVID-19. Therefore, the best time to close schools is before this spread happens. We know that this will be challenging for our families and for our staff. What has kept me up over the past few nights is recognizing the furious pace that this virus can spread. In good conscience, we feel a responsibility to try to mitigate the growing number of presumptive and potential official cases of the Coronavirus. Although we do not have a confirmed case yet, if we wait until one is identified it will be too late to stop the spread of this highly contagious virus. By their very nature, public schools are designed for active and collaborative learning with many opportunities for social interaction. However, we believe that it is essential to take a proactive and precautionary approach to reduce risk for our students and staff by closing schools beginning on Monday, March 16, 2020 through Friday, April 3, 2020 to provide remote/virtual learning. During spring break (April 6-13) we will assess whether or not to reopen school on April 14th based upon the recommendations of health department officials. Please note that remote learning days will fulfill the 180 day requirement under N.J.S.A. 18A:7F-9. According to several sources, closing schools is a proven measure to slow the spread of the disease and, in turn, to keep more students, staff, and families healthy and safe. Some of our parents have already made the choice to keep their children home because they or family members have a compromised immune system or chronic health concerns. The rate of absenteeism will only grow as new cases are identified. The districts of Montgomery, West Windsor- Plainsboro, and Princeton, Hopewell, and Lawrence plan to activate remote learning as well. Additionally. we know many businesses have moved to social isolation and are allowing staff to work from home. Therefore, on Monday, March 16th we will shut down all school facilities and move to virtual / remote learning. This will include the cancellation or postponement of all after-school, evening, and weekend activities. All facility use events and rental activities will be cancelled as well. And as a reminder, the Robbinsville Extended Day program will also be closed. Families of students in RED will receive credit for days missed due to this mandated closure. We know we cannot fully replace the live classroom experiences that organically occur with teacher-student interactions and connections. We also know that we are charting unexplored territory as we implement remote learning for our students. However, we are hopeful that this experience will help all of us appreciate the expanded possibilities for students to hone their Rville Ready skills. Please know we are here for you and will navigate this together! Right now, buildings will remain open with some essential staff which will allow us to carry on with the “business” end of school. We will also be available to answer questions you may have. If for some reason, you need to come to the building to pick up materials and resources, we will be happy to help. Office hours for each building will be posted on the district website. The Robbinsville Public School District is working closely with Aramark, our food service vendor, to devise a plan for daily lunch delivery to participants of the free and reduced lunch program throughout these remote learning school days. A separate letter will be sent to the parents of program participants. Dr. Tew will send out a follow up letter outlining staff responsibilities and providing details for the learning plan for the next few weeks. I will continue to communicate with you throughout this process. Finally, we will keep you apprised of our plans for the March 18th preliminary budget hearing as we receive guidance. Time and again, you have heard me speak about our sacred work as a vocation of love. Please know that we are making this decision out of love for the safety and health of our students, families, and community. With gratitude, Kathie Foster, Superintendent