Sparta students are attending classes five days per week, but on a shortened schedule.
Aside from that, the interim superintendent, Patrick McQueeney, said the reopening is going well.
“They are thrilled to be back seeing their friends and teachers in person,” he said.
The New Jersey Department of Health also has downgraded the entire state from Orange, or high risk for Covid-19 transmission, to Yellow, which is considered moderate risk.
McQueeney said the downgrade gives the district flexibility in its reopening plan.
“Our plan is to wait and monitor this for the next few weeks to see if it is going to continue to change in a positive direction,” he said. “It would be irresponsible to make any changes at this point before we know how the trends are going.”
McQueeney said the area had gone Yellow in February, and then went back to Orange in March when the area was hit with a third wave of Covid spread.
Parent Jen Hamilton expressed her frustration that high school students are not on campus for full days. She said the district doesn’t have a strong plan or the ability to have students eat in the cafeteria.
“This was the issue back in February when you announced they were going back in February,” Hamilton said. “What has changed?”
McQueeney said health department guidelines changed on March 23 to require six-foot spacing between students for lunch periods. Those guidelines remain, even with the downgrade to Yellow.
“Right now, we don’t have a great plan to maintain those six feet,” McQueeney said.
Hamilton said that with less than two months remaining in the school year, returning to all-day instruction before the end of the term is “laughable.”
Hamilton also questioned whether the students truly wanted to be in school for full days, and said many middle and high schoolers will not say they want to go back.
“While it may be anecdotal to say students don’t want to be in school, they are much more intuitive, and their feedback is extremely valued by me, our administration, and this board when making these decisions,” McQueeney said.
“Our plan is to wait and monitor this for the next few weeks to see if it is going to continue to change in a positive direction. It would be irresponsible to make any changes at this point before we know how the trends are going.” Superintendent Patrick McQueeney