After almost three full quarters of hybrid and virtual learning, on March 16, the Ridgewood Board of Education announced new plans to transition to all in-person learning on April 19, 2021. This new model will maintain the current system of four hour in-person learning with school resuming virtually in the afternoon; however, students will have the opportunity to attend everyday. There will no longer be a hybrid option, but students may choose to remain all-virtual. Students will not be permitted to switch from in-person to virtual learning once they have made their decision. All in-person students may only return to remote learning temporarily if they are exposed to COVID-19. Masks will continue to be worn at all times, and social distancing will be maintained to the greatest extent possible. It is likely that due to class sizes, social distancing may be reduced in many classrooms, and as a result individual barriers will be placed on all desks. This new system may be subject to change based on new information from health officials or the governor. All coronavirus cases will continue to be investigated on an individual basis following the NJDOH COVID-19 Exclusion Criteria, and schools will return to hybrid learning if cases reach a dangerously high level.
Many students here at RHS are excited at the opportunity to return to in-person instruction, and plan on coming back to school on April 19th. In fact, several students have already been coming everyday for some time now. Kate Russell, a junior at RHS, has been coming to school everyday since February 22. “I am completely happy with my decision,” Kate says. She describes how isolated she felt as a hybrid student. “Being at home was lonely, and staring at a screen all day was dull. I would often get distracted and find myself reaching for my phone,” she laments. “Now that I’m all in-person I can develop stronger relationships with my teachers and peers, and I’m able to focus more. I finally enjoy learning again.”
With numerous schools reopening across the nation, the CDC has released new guidelines regarding the safety of students and faculty. As of March 18, 2021, the CDC lowered the social social distancing recommendation from six feet to three feet, as long as masks are worn at all times and transmission is low, moderate, or substantial. The CDC has also recently released new guidelines regarding how fully-vaccinated individuals may live their lives. Reminder, a person is only considered to be fully-vaccinated two weeks after their final dose of the vaccine. Such individuals may gather indoors without masks with other fully-vaccinated people. They may also gather indoors without masks with unvaccinated individuals from one other household, unless any of these people are at risk of severe illness or death from COVID-19, or have been exposed to COVID-19. Fully vaccinated people should still wear masks and maintain social distancing in public, crowded, or poorly ventilated areas. Fully vaccinated individuals should also still be on the watch for COVID-19 symptoms, and get tested and quarantine if necessary.
Graphic: Jacob Baskin