Statement from Mayor Matthew Moench On School District Request to go Virtual to Start the School Year
“As a parent of school aged children and a husband to a public school teacher, I know firsthand the struggles facing parents, educators, and administrators as we all try to figure out what is best for the education, health, and well-being of our children. However, I am disappointed in the decision of the Bridgewater-Raritan Regional School District to go fully virtual at the start of the school year. An enormous amount of time, resources, and planning has gone in to providing a balanced approach to reopening, with all parents having the option to go fully virtual if they believed that to be best for them and their family. This decision to go fully virtual does not provide any additional benefits for those families who already selected the fully remote option, but instead limits the options for those parents who felt that in-person instruction was the best for their children and their family.
"It is not lost on me the almost impossible situation that the Board of Education and the District Administration were placed in. They are answering to a diverse community of parents and educators who all have differing opinions on what is best from them and their families. On top of this, they were given just over a month to make a decision with incomplete and vague guidance from the State. Governor Murphy should have provided a fully remote option months ago, or encourage in-person component to school. While I support more local control over COVID-19 decisions, the last minute shift of options and policies throws confusion into the decision-making process and continues to represent a disjointed, inconsistent approach to COVID-19 policy throughout the state.
"Unfortunately, the District's decision to reverse in-person learning option will have an impact on our community. Not only for the students, who will lose the ability to socialize with their friends and have more meaningful engagement with their teachers, but for the working parents who now must juggle their child care and personal finances in a whole new and unanticipated way. I suspect private schools will see an increase in enrollment as parents continue to explore options for in-person education; a decision which may impact public schools into the future.
"I hope that the extra time, if granted, will allow the district to implement the safety precautions and logistics needed to resume full time in-person education in October for those parents who choose to send their children, and continue with a remote option for those families who opt-out of in-person schooling. The Township, as it has been, will be there to support and provide guidance in any way that we can.”