District to present reopening plan to the state

Public comments on school mascot removal


Abby Shapiro

Assistant District Superintendent Barry Bachenheimer presented three plans for school reopening at Thursday’s virtual Board of Education meeting held through Zoom. It consisted of all on-site classes, 100% remote learning, and a hybrid schedule.

Assistant District Superintendent Barry Bachenheimer presented three plans for the reopening of school at Thursday morning’s virtual Board of Education meeting held through Zoom. 

The three plans consist of schedules for all on-site classes, 100% remote learning, and a hybrid schedule in which a certain number of the student body can come into school on a rotating basis to continue social distancing. All plans will be submitted to the Bergen County Superintendent of Schools on July 27. 

“The top three answers [to priorities] that we received [from a survey sent out to parents] were number one, health cleanliness and safety. Number two, academics. Then, number three, having students be able to see their teachers, [which could be solved by] wearing masks,” Bachenheimer said. 

A hybrid plan would divide students into two groups, Group A and Group B, which would alternate the schedules of each group. One group would learn on campus, while the other would attend school through a virtual lens. Students would have the option to buy lunch from school or eat at home before completing the school day virtually.  

“A large number of our parents had great concerns about school lunch and our health advisors concurred that there arguably is no more hazardous activity as part of the school day than lunch where people would have to remove their masks to eat,” Bachenheimer said.

Students are also given the option to opt-out of in-person instruction to learn remotely, following New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy’s announcement

“If [students are] not attending face to face [instruction], they will be working on group projects and activities that they don’t necessarily need to have a teacher in front of them for, such as homework, projects, or reading essay construction,” Bachenheimer said. 

The district plans to instate a daily questionnaire to ensure the health of students and faculty. While the school will not enforce a temperature check each day before entering school grounds, hand sanitizers have been placed throughout the school to ensure students and faculty are properly sanitized, according to Bachenheimer.

“We are still working out the details of the instruction model, but the intent is if a student is choosing to take the 100% remote option, they are going to be engaged in the classwork just like students who are going into the buildings on alternate days,” Gundersen said.

To conduct research for the three plans, the district formed a 40-member Restart Committee consisting of parents, students, administration, staff, and BOE members. Within the Restart Committee are six subcommittees that address six areas of focus: Facilities, Governance, Instruction, Building Operations, Technology, and Health and Safety. 

All recommendations made by the subcommittees must align with the district priority and goals of  “The Road Back”, a 104-page document that provides the requirements schools must follow in order to reopen.

“As part of the planning process, as a district, we established three priority goals which really supersede everything,” Bachenheimer said. “Number one, focusing on the health and safety of all staff and students. The second one is establishing and maintaining high academic expectations. Then lastly, having students establish meaningful connections between students and the faculty.”

Hillsdale resident Gina Hutchinson asked how freshmen are supposed to get acclimated to the new school environment during this time. In response, Gundersen said they are still looking to have a freshman orientation day, but they have not yet settled on a solution. They are searching for options to get incoming freshmen accustomed to their new school.

The BOE made the decision to remove the PV Indian mascot and the PH Cowboys mascot during a virtual BOE meeting held on Zoom on June 22. During the “old business” public comment portion, many callers shared their thoughts and concerns about the PV and PH mascots removal.

The cause of changing the mascot is not only frivolous, uncaring, and disrespectful to our tax payer, but also unaffordable.”

— Karolie Adams

“Being a PV alum, I find myself reflecting on my opinion of the change of the mascot, and my issue with it is the way the process worked. It came as a surprise to a lot of people, and the vote on that monday night came as a surprise to a lot of people.”

— Anthony DeRosa

“My Native American son that goes to PV does not agree with the removal of the Indian. It is not racist and it is not offensive. What is offensive is that a group of non natives decided to stereotype an entire race of people. One hundred percent of your Native American students see that as positive.”

— Jessica Frolich

“Mascots shouldn’t be people and we shouldn’t have other racial epithets as mascots in the future.”

— Benjamin Oosting