student in mask

Cherry Hill School District representatives met virtually with parents and the community Monday — the night before students were to show up in school buildings for the first time in eight months.

The largest district in South Jersey was to offer both hybrid and remote learning when schools opened in September, but that was postponed when the district said it was not ready. It was to open buildings to students last Tuesday, but a rash of COVID-19 cases among school-age children in town made the district postpone hybrid learning to this Tuesday.

District Superintendent Joseph N. Meloche said that about 1,400 people were on the Zoom call. Representatives of the district were joined by Paschal Nwako, the Camden County health officer and public health coordinator.

The breakdown between hybrid and remote-only learning in the district, Meloche said, would be: elementary, 62% hybrid and 38% virtual; middle, 57% and 43%; and high school, 50% and 50%.

Three schools in the district will be 70% or more hybrid: A. Russell Knight Elementary (77%), Richard Stockton Elementary (73%) and Alternative High School (70%). The lowest hybrid shares were Kingston Elementary (47%), Joyce Kilmer Elementary (48%) and Cherry Hill High School East (48%).

chps town meeting

School administrators, union representatives and board members on the Cherry Hill public schools Zoom meeting with parents.

Meloche said that students who have selected hybrid may switch to remote-only. If a student is on hybrid and needs to miss a day, the student may sign in remotely to receive attendance credit, he added. If a student chose remote-only and wants to go hybrid, the student's parents should contact the school principal.

Some of the pre-submitted questions from parents covered how the county Health Department would make recommendations in response to COVID-19 outbreaks. Schools in Camden County have the highest number of confirmed oubreaks (nine) and linked cases (54) among all counties in the state.

Meloche said that out of 1,702 district employees, 11 have tested positive for COVID-19 and 24 are quarantined or quaratined because they are awaiting test results.

In response to a question, Meloche said there have not been widespread modifications to the school ventilation systems in the district, however time has been spent cleaning and checking the existing systems.

One parent asked if a whole class would be quarantined if students were masked and socially distanced and a student in the room tests positive. Nwako said that his department consults class seating charts with the school and may quarantine only those sitting nearby and not the full class.

Nwako said his department also would use the seating chart to determine which students should quarantine if a teacher tests positive.

Thougt exchange

Superintendent Joseph N. Meloche announced a Thought Exchange, inviting thoughts and questions, that will run through Friday.