Dear Hackettstown School Community Members,
It is my honor and privilege to welcome you back to the 2020-2021 school year. So far, the year 2020 has been like no other in our history. All of our lives changed on March 13, 2020. While we understood this was going to be a difficult path to travel, no one could have predicted or anticipated what our current future would become. Each of us has dealt with the COVID-19 pandemic differently and in stride. Positively speaking, as a society, we have learned a great deal about ourselves and will take that focused energy towards solutions to better our lives and society than we have before. This begins once the doors of our school, whether that be physically, virtually or both, fill with students and staff come September 3rd.
The pandemic is a fluid and ever changing situation. As days have become weeks and weeks have become months, it seems as if the rules of engagement for society are altered, revised or modified. All that said, last spring our administrative cabinet began exploring and preparing for this very moment. Endless days, nights, and weekends passed as we deciphered how to best process all available information through science and meld those facts into educational pedagogy and philosophy for 2020-2021 and beyond. Both the hybrid, (in-person) schedule for instruction and live streaming platforms offered are unique and forward thinking. There are not many school districts that offer what we have created in Hackettstown Public Schools. So, the schedule and time frames surrounding returns are irrelevant as the delivery of instruction is the fundamental element for student success. Currently, there is no legitimate information that will call for education and life to return as it was prior to March 13th. For this reason, our educational options and momentum continues in the eye of this storm.
The main goal and objective of our Hackettstown Board of Education and administrative cabinet was to first, ensure the health and safety of our students and staff. We have remained in front with our purchasing of PPE equipment, small construction within buildings, enhancing air flow within our nurses’ offices, cleaning protocol, enforcement of wearing masks on school campus and respecting space by socially distancing. In partnership with our school district, I kindly ask that you continue reinforcing these concepts with your child (ren) at home. Secondly, our goal and objective was to maximize PK-8, in-person learning as frequently as possible. Our educational administrative belief is that our PK-8 student population must be in school as often as possible. The core subject areas will be heavily assessed as we must know any negative educational impacts this pandemic has caused for our students in order to enhance their educational stability and grade level. As for our high school community, our belief is that virtual instruction is certainly the way of the future as evidenced by colleges and universities. We must provide tools to increase platforms for both students and staff in true preparation for a global future that has now been forever altered. Again, thanks to the Board of Education, the district has been afforded the opportunity to purchase, practice and put into place the tools that will open that doorway into our future. So often, adults hinder advancement for the fear of the unknown. However, our children are resilient and adaptable. They embrace and welcome change, and I am confident they will flourish once the school year settles and consistent educational platforms commence. It is at this point in time that we, as adults, can learn by the examples set by our children.
Please review our Re-Entry Plan and Short Take Videos, on our district website. The administrative cabinet along with each building’s re-entry task force have worked tirelessly and endlessly to put together the best possible hybrid instructional option and virtual option for each building. As previously said, Hackettstown is one of the few districts in the county, and dare to say state of New Jersey that has three different hybrid options and instruction to support the uniqueness and needs of each school and school population as well as, virtual live stream instruction.
In closing, there are no easy paths before us, and we are in the late rounds of a heavy weight championship fight. We have taken several punches, yet still returned to our feet. By taking precautionary measures such as wearing masks, practicing good health habits, respecting one another’s space and most importantly, partnering with one another, while not on campus, is our way to remain standing strong before this virus. It is a way for us to take small incremental steps in returning where we once were as a society. The only way for us to advance is by working in unison. Remember, our children learn and model what they see and hear both at home and in school. Again, our students are adaptable and strong so let’s learn and grow through resilience and come together for a common cause.
My office, in conjunction with the Board of Education, and administrative cabinet remain committed to the health, safety, and best possible educational product for our school community. We are transparent and will continue communicating with our community any changes that may and need to occur. Our district website is a journal of information as to the origin of each decision and how the decisions made are in the best interest of our entire school community.
Best of health and school year,
David C. Mango
Superintendent of Schools