District puts finishing touches on reopening plan


Ilmie Xhaferi

The Board of Education discussed the final details of the reopening plan before school begins on September 3. The district approved new curricula, a temporary change in course credit for all full year science courses, and new faculty for the 2020-2021 school year.

District Superintendent Erik Gundersen revealed during the Board of Education’s virtual Zoom meeting Monday night that a total of six teachers are opting out of the 2020-21 school year, with over 96% of the district’s faculty returning. He also included that over 90% of parents are allowing their students to return to in-person classes.

“We don’t have individuals that are taking a leave of absence as a result of a variety of reasons. I think in large part that is [due to the] really strong partnership that we have with the Teachers’ Association and our work in establishing an in-district daycare opportunity for staff member’s children,” Gundersen said. “I know that helped out a wide variety of teachers in regards to some of their childcare issues.”

The BOE approved the temporary change in course credit for all full-year science courses from six credits to five due to the lack of lab periods in the hybrid schedule for the 2020-2021 school year. 

“As a result of our restart and reopening plan, in an effort to be able to schedule students for the classes that they need in a safe manner, we do not have our traditional science classes with an additional one period per week in a laboratory environment,” Gundersen said. “Because there are not six periods per week that students meet for science [and] there will instead be five periods per week, we needed the credits to reflect that.” 

New curricula were approved during the BOE meeting as well. These courses include Spanish for Heritage Speakers III, School Library Program, and Unified Physical Education. Three new science courses – Introduction to Anatomy & Physiology, Honors Anatomy & Physiology, and Honors Physics – were also added to the curriculum. 

While Pascack Valley and Pascack Hills will both have their own full-time nurse and part-time nurse, Gundersen said that Pascack Valley will also receive a substitute nurse for the 2020-21 school year due to its larger enrollment. 

“Pascack Valley is also receiving a substitute teacher who will be there every day that [the school is] open so Pascack Valley will have an additional part-time substitute nurse as well every day,” Gundersen said. “When we need a substitute [nurse], that person can hopefully fill in. The school nurses engage those substitute nurses in the appropriate training so that when they are called upon to step in, they hit the ground running.” 

The BOE also approved a Mentor Plan for the 2020-2021 school year in which PV teachers would mentor newly hired teachers and faculty in the district. PV English teacher Bonnie Slocket will mentor new district library media specialist Megan Pettigano in the English/media center department, and PV math teacher Caitlyn Murphy will mentor new math teacher Juliet Fanik as well. 

There were also multiple changes of assignment approved for the school year. Most notably, Tom Gallione is set to transition from acting assistant principal back to physical education teacher.