March 13, 2020
ALLENTOWN, UPPER FREEHOLD, MILLSTONE, NJ (MONMOUTH)–See letter from Mark Guterl, Superintendent of Schools Letter can be downloaded here.
March 13, 2020
Good Afternoon, UFRSD Family,
Effective Monday, March 16, 2020, the Upper Freehold Regional School District will close its buildings to students and non-essential personnel and will activate at-home/virtual learning for instruction. This was a multi-faceted decision made in consultation with the Monmouth County Health Officer and Monmouth County Executive Superintendent. Additionally, we have worked in collaboration with Dr. Huss from the Millstone Township Schools. The decision is based upon growing research indicating that social distancing is an effective strategy that currently impacts the eventual spread of COVID-19. Therefore, the best time to close schools is before this spread happens.
This decision did not come lightly, but we felt compelled to do everything we can to fight any community spread that may occur. This decision was made for the safety of our kids, staff and communities. We know that this will be challenging for our families and for our staff. 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. Additionally, it is becoming increasingly difficult to track the degrees of separation between positive cases in NJ and our residents.
Beginning Monday, March 16th, our at-home and virtual learning plan will begin. All home learning will be done on a half day schedule, which will give students and staff the afternoons to do what they need to do for school.
By their very nature, public schools are designed for active and collaborative learning with many opportunities for social interaction. Our at-home and virtual learning plans will certainly not be equal to face-to-face instruction, but we will do our best to continue the education of our kids. From Monday, March 16, 2020 through Friday, March 27, 2020 we will provide at-home/virtual learning. During this time, we will continually be assessing whether or not to reopen school on March 30, 2020. This decision will be made based upon the recommendations of health department officials and in collaboration with Dr. Huss. 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. 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. How we implement this plan will continually evolve as we have more experience with it.
This closure 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.
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.
The UFRSD and our food service vendor, Chartwells, have planned for daily lunch for 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.
Principals of each building 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.
As I have said, this is a fluid situation that will be constantly evolving. We will do everything to continue to communicate with you and support you in any way. We look forward to getting back to school at some point in the near future. I have never been prouder to work in the UFRSD.
Superintendent of Schools