BRIDGEWATER, NJ — Bridgewater-Raritan Regional School Interim Superintendent Dr. Thomas Ficarra gave a presentation on Tuesday night showing where the district stands as far as reopening to full in-person learning.
The bottom line, the school district will not be moving to phase in more in-person instruction until there is a plateau in the number of COVID-19 cases and the district moves from “high risk” back to “moderate risk.”
“We are looking and planning to move out of our current situation as quickly as we can depending on fitting in with the health guidance,” said Ficarra during the Tuesday night Board of Education meeting. “We are as anxious to get back to in-person learning as anyone is. This is something that was thrust on the educational community, I in no way pretend that hybrid or virtual instruction is a substitute of in-person instruction but at the same time we have to follow the health regulations that are given to us by the appropriate authorities and not makeup decisions based on popular politics or popular opinions that are floating around.”
The district began the school year on Sept. 8 as fully virtual before switching to a hybrid model on Oct. 12 that allows students to do a mixture of in-school and virtual learning.
About 55 percent or 4,890 students of the district’s student body have chosen all-remote, and the remainder is on an in-person hybrid schedule.
Since opening for hybrid on Oct. 12, the district has had to close the High School for 14 days on three separate occasions, the Middle School once for 14 days, and the intermediate and primary schools have all remained open without any closures.
“We have had 149 individuals test positive and through contact tracing, we have identified approximately 451 who were quarantined for 14 days,” said Ficarra.
Ficarra went on to address questions from parents and the community about how decisions are made in the district, whether the school can return to in-person learning, how COVID cases are counted and more.
“It is important to note that while the final decisions are made by the superintendent, I have made any and all decisions regarding the opening and scheduling of school, based upon the NJDOE The Road Back – Restart and Recovery Plan for Education for opening schools, NJDOH and CDC guidelines and in collaboration with our local and county health officials,” said Ficarra. “It is important the public understands that the administrative decisions made are not based on the politics or popular opinions surrounding the pandemic. We are strictly adhering to New Jersey State Guidance with advice from health professionals.”
See below to view Ficarra’s presentation and the FAQs: