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District Health Update and FAQ, Part 7

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Dear Secaucus Families,


As we approach the holiday break, we find ourselves dealing with a steep increase in COVID cases around the state. December 17, 2020 had 1,500 fewer daily COVID cases than we have today. Similarly, our district cases have also increased. During this past week, we had an additional 15 positive COVID-19 cases. This brings our district total to 56 for the school year. Fortunately, we were able to isolate all positive individuals and prevent a large number of quarantines from occurring.


New guidance that was just released today from the state reduces the quarantine period for unvaccinated people exposed to positive cases from 14 days to 10 days. A negative PCR test on day 5-7 would further reduce quarantines to 7 days. Please keep this in mind while traveling out of the state over the holiday break. 


Below, you will find our next FAQ, Part 7. Our Parent Communication form remains open for all of your questions, comments, and concerns. If you have any questions/comments, please click here to submit them: https://forms.gle/Xcx1QzgPN52JFH6DA


Have a wonderful weekend!


Sincerely, 


Dr. Daniela Riser

Acting Superintendent


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Frequently Asked Questions, Part 7

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Our Parent Communication Form is still open! If there are any questions you would like to ask the district administration, please visit this link to ask: https://forms.gle/Xcx1QzgPN52JFH6DA

 

Q: A mask can attenuate hearing by up 10 decibels in addition to the loss of facial clues can effect learning for all students. Students with auditory processing disorder are even more a a disadvantage. I think it would beneficial for everyone to wear clear mask, like some other schools are starting too.

 

A: Certain classes at the elementary level are already using clear masks as an alternative to the regular masks for instructing their students. However, there is a huge price difference between the paper masks that are provided to teachers/students as needed and the clear masks. Clear masks cost substantially more money and were not factored into this year’s budget. However, if it proves to be a great benefit to our teachers, our principals will consider the additional costs to purchase such items. 

 

Q: I recently saw pictures of teachers and substitutes taking pictures with students without masks. We can not allow that!

 

A: Any pictures that are taken without proper social distancing and masks indoors are not condoned by the administration and the school district. However, some pictures may be taken without the administration being aware of it. We will continue to encourage the proper way to take pictures in the environment that we are currently in, adhering to the executive order put into place by Governor Murphy. 

 

Q: Why are some of the bathrooms still locked?

 

A: Periodically, some bathrooms will need to be locked for maintenance in all of our district schools. Also, if an incident occurs in a bathroom, sometimes it is locked for an internal investigation to occur. We are not locking bathrooms to prevent student access and most of the bathrooms in each school will be open for student use. 

 

Q: You claim you pay your substitute teachers most in the county and that is untrue. Other districts pay more and are all in the same county and more money than here. You say we have enough then why are so many teachers being pulled and aides to cover classes? Why do we not hire full time substitute teachers it would be so beneficial all around and we are the only district that does not have any either. I am sure we can cut corners in other places

 

A: As previously stated in the last FAQ, we have increased our substitute salary this year, making it comparable to schools in the area and actually exceeding the Hudson County average. We never claimed to pay the most in the county. While some towns in Hudson County are paying more per day than us, we exceed the average rate for the county as a whole. Our limited budget for the school year will prevent us from raising our substitute rate even higher since costs associated with this recent increase need to be offset by cuts in other areas. However, we feel that our pay increase has attracted more substitute teachers to our district, as indicated by our coverage schedules. In speaking to the superintendents from around Hudson County and from across the state, there is a systemic substitute shortage that is not getting better as salaries are raised and the year progresses. You are welcome to google it or read this article that can shed some light on the situation: https://time.com/6121336/substitute-teacher-shortage-pandemic/

 

Q: We need more TAs. Why are you not replacing them?

 

A: As each teacher assistant in our schools leave the district or retire, we will hire additional TAs, if needed. We are not opposed to hiring TAs if the situation benefits from it. Careful consideration from the building administrators will inform the need to hire a TA when the time come.

 

Q: Why is there only one teacher in my child’s Pre-K class? There is an aide in the classroom, but that is not enough. 

 

A: Many districts around the area have their Pre-K classes taught by one certified instructor and one classroom aide or teachers aide. In special cases, more classroom aides are warranted in the classes, usually due to 504s or IEPs the students in the classes have. We are following the guidance of the state for educating our students at the Pre-K level.

 

Q: Can I get my daughter results Start Strong Assessments from this  September

 

A: Yes! The student reports were send to us early this week. Each school is in the process of sending out their scores to the parents. You should get your results before break!

 

Q: Hello, this is our 2nd yr in Secaucus school district. Last yr due to pandemic, information may not be updated. However, this year school has been back to routine. Nothing has been updated on district web pages. Parents don’t get information from school in a timely manners except for all the donations needed and all the drives. I am not sure what the district is doing to improve this communication between school and parents. Although, I understand all the updates, but I feel that other school districts are doing so much. What are the plans in place for future, where parents can see the announcements and also students test papers. We don’t have excess to looking at kids graded test. How can I trust that my child is learning what they need to learn.

 

A: Our district webpages have been consistently updated with information in the “Latest News” section of our website at https://www.sboe.org/. In addition, all social media sites are updated daily with news and information for parents and students. You also have access to your child’s information on the Parent Portal in Realtime, our student information system. In addition, you are always welcome to reach out to your child’s instructor to get updates on their Google classrooms on assignments that your child has completed or hasn’t completed. Lastly, each principal in the school district sends out a monthly newsletter that highlights what is happening in each school. 

If you have further questions or concerns, please reach out to your child’s principal. 

 

Q: Con referente a la cuarentena q impondrán a los niños q se vayan de viaje y no estén vacunados, q metodología aplicarán para saber con certeza q un niño y su familiares se fueron de viaje? 

 

A: Dependemos de la honestidad de los padres. Tenemos que confiar en que los padres están diciendo la verdad cuando viajan para poner en cuarentena a los estudiantes no vacunados a su regreso. No se requerirá que los estudiantes vacunados se pongan en cuarentena.

 

Q: Can you please confirm if there is travel over the holidays, is the quarantine time of 14 days reduced with a negative PCR test?

A: The state has just reduced the quarantine period back from 14 days to 10 days. A PCR test WILL reduce the quarantine period to 7 days with a negative PCR taken on the 5th - 7th day. The State of NJ just announced a free, at-home COVID-19 PCR saliva test that can be ordered at: https://learn.vaulthealth.com/nj/ 


Q: Kids are not getting enough snack time or time to eat their lunch. 

 

A: We are currently giving students an ample amount of time to eat their snacks and lunch, as per state guidelines. We are avoiding additional unmasked times in order to prevent the spread of communicable diseases in school. 

 

Q: With the recent threats of school violence, students are nervous to go to school. Why can’t we just go virtual?

 

A: As stated in a previous FAQ, we are not allowed to conduct virtual school days without being shut down by the county health department and other state education officials. Since the Virtual School executive order has been rescinded for the 2021-2022 school year, we are not allowed to transition to virtual instruction by a decision from the superintendent or board of education. However, we are certain that our staff and students are totally safe in our school buildings. As stated previously in a correspondence sent to parents (https://www.sboe.org/apps/news/article/1538201) we have a great relationship with our town police, who are vigilant in their efforts to protect our schools at all costs. There should be no cause for concern regarding the safely of our school buildings. 

 

Q: COVID-19 cases are going up. I am concerned that many parents who travel over break and attend large get-togethers are going to spread the disease to my child upon return to school in January. Is there anything that can be done, such as virtual instruction or an abbreviated school day upon return, that can minimize that risk?

 

A: The district is currently exploring their options regarding the return to school in the new year. While virtual instruction can not be an option (see previous answer), there are some alternatives that may be considered. Parents will be informed of any decisions that are made if they come to fruition.

 

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