Monmouth County schools plan to reopen, face setbacks

NJ high schools have ever changing schedules, switching between all virtual, hybrid, to all in-person learning.


NJ high schools have ever changing schedules, switching between all virtual, hybrid, to all in-person learning.

Kaitlyn Delaney

As schools across the country return to normal following the COVID-19 pandemic, each school has a different plan for what their “new normal” is expected to be. On July 26, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy gave schools clearance to reopen, and schools across Monmouth County have had various approaches to doing so.

The Monmouth County Vocational School District initially planned to operate on a hybrid model, where students were split into cohorts and attended school in person two days a week and virtually for the remaining three, also providing students with the option to remain fully virtual. However, roughly a week before schools were set to reopen, MCVSD superintendent Dr. Charles Ford announced that they would no longer be able to execute this plan “because of significant staffing needs.” 

Schools within the Freehold Regional High School District (FRHSD) encountered a similar issue. Like MCVSD, the district planned to reopen its schools on a hybrid schedule with extensive COVID-19 safety guidelines. However, due to similar staffing concerns, Dr. Charles Sampson, the FRHSD superintendent, announced on Aug. 26th that they would be operating remotely until Oct. 19th, when they plan to reopen on a hybrid schedule as initially anticipated.

Some private schools in Monmouth County, however, followed a different route for reopening. The Christian Brothers Academy (CBA) in Lincroft opened at full capacity with students only attending in person. Students were provided with the choice to learn remotely, but a hybrid choice was not available to students. The students who chose to attend in person were required to follow extensive safety guidelines, including filling out a health screening prior to entering, wearing a mask at all times and maintaining social distancing.

After roughly three weeks of operation, the CBA administration announced on Sept. 24th that they will be switching to a remote learning structure due to four positive COVID tests within the student body. The administration followed the CDC’s guidelines of contact tracing, resulting in dozens of students being quarantined due to possible exposure, and plans to resume normal instruction following Columbus Day weekend.

MCVSD students were required to learn remotely for the month of September, and many were disappointed by the decision. Senior Erin Burke of Allentown explained her disappointment, a feeling that much of the CHS community shared.

“I’m definitely disappointed…, but I think that it’s what’s best for the CHS community, especially the staff members who don’t have a choice whether they have to come in or not.” Burke said. “Ultimately, I think it’s the right decision [but] I think it’s just a large disappointment for the CHS students.”

After nearly four weeks of virtual instruction, the MCVSD schools are preparing to reopen again on Oct. 5th under the original hybrid learning plan. In a newsletter addressed to MCVSD parents, Dr. Ford explained the guidelines put in place to guarantee the safety of the students. 

“The reopening of schools requires a broad community commitment to reduce the risks of exposure to the virus that causes COVID-19…in order to keep our school community healthy and safe,” Dr. Ford explained.