We are happy for a “normal” opening to the 2021-22 school year: full-day, in-person sessions.
We are adjusting to public health requirements as they are determined by the state, such as the wearing of face masks. This site will be updated as rules and guidance change, and we thank you for patience, understanding, and compliance.
This information, distributed to parents August 30th, is also available on our FAQs page.
Federal funds will help expand programs, staff and technology
Federal funding allowed Rutherford Public Schools to expand some of our academic programs, add key support personnel, and improve access to technology. This grant funding comes through the U.S. Department of Education in connection with other pandemic-related initiatives, and we’re excited to share with you the ways we’ll put it into action for the 2021-22 school year.
You may have heard about funding called the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund (ESSER II Fund). Rutherford was awarded $763,784 in ESSER II grant funding. Our application focused on support for academic challenges and social-emotional adjustments, while also allowing for technological enhancements and personal protective equipment (PPE) purchases.
IN THE ACADEMIC ARENA, this grant funding allowed us to expand programs we have already used with success. If a student struggles with “learning loss” after the difficult year of 2020-21, we have a greater capacity to guide him or her back up to grade level. We are evaluating and adjusting the K-3 curriculum to determine how we can best meet student needs. We already identified students in grades 4-11 who could participate in summer enrichment programs focused on language arts and math. We are implementing a series of science-based instructional tools for our elementary students. At Union and the High School, we are using a “zero hour” to start the day with additional help for students. All of these programs are funded by ESSER II as we work to help students get back on track where necessary.
SOCIAL-EMOTIONAL LEARNING was a concern of schools before the pandemic, but it became even more important as students contended with altered schedules, revised teaching techniques, and anxieties not directly related to education. We know that what happens outside of school can impact how students perform in school, and that was a driving force in our decision to seek grant funding for social-emotional supports. Starting this fall, we have contracted with CarePlus New Jersey to provide clinicians for counseling services to augment our team of counselors not only for in-school sessions, but also for school clearances and in-home support when necessary. Clinicians are based at Pierrepont and the High School, and are available for students in Kindergarten through Grade 12. Our CarePlus contract also includes some professional development so our staff members are better equipped to detect issues.
TECHNOLOGY proved essential in 2020-21, and grant funding will help us perform even better in the future. Expected enhancements include the establishment of internet hotspots to fill gaps where internet service was spotty or nonexistent. We have purchased additional Chromebooks for student use, and we’ve planned for touch-screen versions for our preschoolers and kindergartners who may have trouble with the fine motor skills required for mouse manipulation.
These expansions carry a significant price tag, and they are the kind of enhancements that we could not have done without the ESSER II grant. In addition, the federal government is expected to announce another round of funding designed to help local school districts safely reopen, continue daily operations, and address newly emerged student needs. The district’s administrative team is closely monitoring any opportunities to improve Rutherford’s programs, facilities, and equipment.
-- Jack Hurley, Superintendent of Schools
The District Reopening Plan is an ongoing process and subject to change as directed by the New Jersey Department of Education or as dictated by changing circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic.