RED BANK: SCHOOLS DIVERGE ON SCHEDULES

redbankgreen hot topicThe construction fence surrounding an addition at Red Bank Regional High School has come down, in time for a resumption of a hybrid schedule that will bring students back to the Little Silver campus starting Monday, Superintendent Lou Moore announced Thursday.

But in Red Bank borough, RBR’s largest sending district, the primary and middle schools will remain off-limits to students and staff for another month due to the resurgent COVID-19 pandemic, Superintendent Jared Rumage said.

• From an announcement by RBR’s Moore:

First, based upon consultation with the Monmouth County Regional Health Commission, it has been determined that we can resume in-person “hybrid” instruction on Monday, December 14.  All known positive cases and close contacts among staff and students have been identified and these individuals are following the appropriate exclusion protocols.  I want to affirm the high value we place on in-person learning and our commitment to keeping school open as much as possible.  However, we will need to shift to full-remote again if we experience school-based transmissions or if the state or county risk index shifts to the “red” or the highest risk category. (Everyone can consult the “COVID Dashboard” on our website to view the current number of cases at RBR and in our area.)

Second, to avoid transmissions after the upcoming holiday break, instruction will be shifted to “full remote” from January 4 to January 8 as a preventative measure.  This will ensure we have the time to monitor and respond to a possible uptick in cases.

Third,  to further reduce the risk of transmission and stabilize school operations, we also hope to make voluntary testing available on a weekly basis to all staff and students who are not ill or symptomatic starting on January 4.  This action will compliment other efforts to expand testing in our community and give us the capacity to identify cases in asymptomatic individuals and help to reduce transmissions.  Details on this initiative will be shared with you in another update.  You can find information about current testing options on our COVID Dashboard.

The Monmouth County Freeholders on Thursday reported the following case totals in RBR’s three sending towns since the start of the pandemic in March:

Red Bank: 810, up from 691 on December 1

Little Silver: 167, up from 149

Shrewsbury: 200, up from 164.

Amid multiple stops and starts, RBR has been open for only two days of in-person instruction since late October.

“I am acutely aware that the recent shifts between ‘hybrid’ and ‘full remote’ have been difficult,” Moore wrote, adding that he’s hopeful that the latest course of action “will avoid these pivots in the future.”

• The Red Bank district extended its monthlong use of remote-only instruction by another month, through Friday, January 8, Rumage announced Thursday.

From his message to the school community:

In assessing the short-term benefits, we believe this will offer continuity of instruction, maximize student attendance, and protect our students and staff for the upcoming holidays. Looking ahead, we believe this will also provide the path of least resistance to an expansion of in-person instruction beginning on Monday, January 11, 2021. We are wholeheartedly committed to returning on January 11, 2021 and also increasing in-person instruction for specific grade levels and specialized populations. It is our intent to have all students back on a 4 day schedule by the end of January. Information will be distributed prior to winter break delineating the schedule of returning students/grade levels. We will continue to operate on a Minimum School Day schedule for in-person instruction as well as maintain our full-remote Wednesdays.

Further information will be provided in an update scheduled for the week of December 21, Rumage said.

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