JACKSON TOWNSHIP, NJ – The increase in COVID-19 cases in the Jackson School District caught school administrators and school board officials by surprise according to Director of Curriculum Robert Rotante. Under the district’s guidelines, quarantined students receive brief school instruction at the end of each school day remotely, but parents say it isn’t enough and healthy children are being forced to teach themselves complex subjects.
That curriculum, one parent says is causing her daughter stress. It’s a stress that many families experienced during the year-long COVID-19 quarantine where students struggle to keep up with the pace, many resorting to teaching themselves in higher grades, subjects like biology, chemistry and physics.
Now, parents are wondering why children who are being forced into quarantine are being kept from receiving an adequate education even though many don’t even have COVID-19, they were just in the vicinity of another child who did.
As the weather turns and fall moves in, parents fear the situation is only going to get worse.
One parent who spoke at this week’s board of education meeting said he child contracted COVID-19 and was through it in no time, but was forced to stay out of school nearly two weeks after the virus subsided. She said one child experienced COVID like symptoms and now both of her children are falling behind.
“From day two of this school year my family has been living this egregious quarantine plan. Thankfully my daughter recovered well and quickly,” she told the board. “She’s a very high achieving middle school student and spent every day of her quarantine trying to teach herself the assigned work during her full week. Barring the holiday she received just two hours of math instruction and one hour of literacy instruction and one hour of social studies only four hours of instruction because we only had four hours of for four days of school tonight.”
“I’d like to ask you is would you say this is commensurate with in-person middle school instruction?” she asked the board. “Let’s move on to my special needs son he’s dyslexic and because he’s a close contact family member. we’re looking at a 24-day quarantine for my son who by the way is perfectly healthy he had coveted back in the spring very unlikely that he’s going to get COVID.”
Rotante said the district was not ready for such a large amount of students to be absent for COVID-19 infection or quarantines.
“So, when the plan was first developed over the summer we were kind of going off of where our quarantine numbers were last spring,” he said. “We were very optimistic and hopeful that we were going to be getting the school year in that same place where we would really have limited and really we were kind of hoping for almost no quarantines. Really what hit us we’re on the ninth day of school right now you know what hit us with the amount of quarantines.”
“I don’t think any of us in this room ever expected we would be having this many kids positive at this stage of the school year,” he added. “So that’s that’s really the reason that uh we came up with this plan, we also came up with this plan you know evaluating everything that we did last year with synchronous learning and really taking a look at the quality of instruction that the kids got being either on-screen or being in the classroom and it was it was it was a diminished level of instruction that both kids got kids in school and kids got at home this model we felt was really a very quality approach where yes those kids after school would at least get a much more quality level of instruction versus really not getting the attention they would get with 25 kids in a room.”