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MPS Phase 2 Reopening Update
Mark Schwarz
Monday, September 21, 2020

Please see the following message from Superintendent Mark Schwarz regarding the district plans for transitioning to Phase 2 of our reopening (transcript available below):

Video Transcript:

Good afternoon, Madison Community Members,

At the time of this message, we are beginning the third week of our reopening. I’m reaching out today to provide an update on our progress and to address some important topics including safety procedures, instructional practices, and Phase 2 planning. 

I want to begin by thanking all of you for your vigilance and support as we have successfully reopened schools while maintaining safety compliance and strong public health conditions within the Borough and our district. As you are now aware, we have experienced our first COVID case, however the involved parties took proactive quarantining and isolation measures which allowed us to continue our operations without interruption. This scenario should be considered a model for all of us. We cannot prevent cases of COVID 19 from occurring, but we can reduce the likelihood of transmission through safe behaviors and we can keep the community safe by self-isolating and self-quarantining if we have a reason to believe that we may have been exposed. As always, if you believe that you may have COVID 19 or have been exposed to someone that does, please contact the Madison Health Department at 973-593-3079. 

I also want to check in with all students and parents regarding some improvements to our district instructional practices. Email guardian summaries, weekly previews in the Google Classroom stream, and due dates within Google Calendar should now be in effect in some capacity throughout our schools. If you have questions regarding any of these features, please contact your child’s teacher, with an understanding each feature may be used differently depending on the age of your child. We will be sending a survey to all parents shortly to gather your feedback regarding the implementation, usage and effectiveness of these practices later this week. 

Lastly, I would like to share more details regarding our planned shift to Phase 2. We have recently received numerous requests from the parents of elementary students that would like us to fast-track this transition, however all families should be aware of the following points.

1. Phase 2 planning is underway for all students with elementary students receiving priority. 

While all students benefit from being in school everyday, our younger students carry the least risk and the greatest reward from in-person learning. While we finalize our procedural, scheduling and safety preparations for Phase 2, please know that we will be giving priority in this shift to our elementary students. Nevertheless, we are simultaneously planning for Phase 2 at MJS and MHS. 

2. While the Phase 2 transition is important, we must remain cautious in our progress.

As was made clear with the news of our first COVID 19 case, we must remain vigilant, ensuring that our safety procedures are at the forefront of our minds. We are currently experiencing success and strong staffing levels as a result of our measured approach. While we are placing significant urgency on moving to Phase 2, we are mindful that the current environment does not allow for a margin of error. We will make this transition shortly and with an abundance of caution. 

3. Firm dates regarding our Phase 2 transition will be provided by Monday, September 28.

Originally, our timeframe for Phase 2 was sometime in the October/November window. We now expect to be able to make this transition in early October and may be able to bring back Kindergarteners to daily instruction even sooner. We will provide clear expectations regarding these timelines in the coming week. 

Finally, I want to reinforce the message that we are all responsible for successful school operations. Our faculty, staff, students and parents must engage in safe behaviors that will maintain our community health. By remaining diligent and vigilant in completing the daily health screener, complying with health procedures, and avoiding high-risk activities, we can all ensure that our Phase II transition is not delayed. 

Thank you for your partnership and efforts in keeping us all Madison Strong.