Back to School Letter

Dear Parents and Guardians,


Welcome to the upcoming 2020-21 school year here at Birchwood Elementary School. We are excited to welcome your child back to school for what is looking to be an amazing year! As we look to reunite and welcome students back to school, there are still many questions that you may have which we acknowledge creates anxiety for all of us.


Thank you for your positive support as we embarked on virtual learning last spring. It was incredible how we were able to come together and grow as a community during uncertain times.  

Our 2020 – 21 school theme is “Learning is Our Superpower!” Birchwood has experienced numerous building upgrades over the summer, which include:

  • Freshly painted classrooms in Grade 2, Gymnasium, & Nurse’s Office
  • Delivery of new mulch and paint within our outdoor learning areas

Special thanks to our generous PTA and local families for working throughout the summer months to make Birchwood beautiful inside and out, and ready to welcome our students in September!


The first day of school is September 8th and 10th and we understand that this year’s circumstances are unique. Although school will look a bit different than in previous years, rest assured the love, support, and enthusiasm from our staff and teachers will remain constant. Rockaway Township Public Schools are committed to continuing to provide academic, social, and emotional success for all. 


The information on the following page will serve as a “cheat” sheet of the district plan for you to use as a quick reference guide. For more detailed information, please refer to the full plan released by Dr. T, the superintendent of schools.


As always the safety of our students and staff remain our top priority and we are doing our best to balance the requirements from the federal / state governments as well as abide by guidance from local health departments, CDC, while following our district policies. As information changes daily, so do our plans. Due to these unique circumstances, we appreciate your patience as we adjust our protocols and procedures to do what is in the best interest for our students. 


This year we have committed to several methods of instruction:

  • The preferred method is a hybrid virtual and in-person school model with some full school days.
  • The full school days include approx 50% of students in person for a full/normal day.  
  • Students are assigned to either a Green or Gold team (Siblings on the same team) - Green Tuesday/Wednesday: Gold Thursday/Friday
  • 1 day will be a “flex” day when we run our OID - Mondays 
  • Most students will attend two full days of in-person school each week.  
  • For some students receiving special services, days may be different than stated above.  


As parents and educators ourselves, we recognize the hardship a hybrid model creates for families in terms of supervision and child care.  

Here are some of the topics that have come up in frequent discussions with the community:


Teacher Assignments:

  • We will share student schedules and teacher info with all families in early September. 



  • Face coverings will be required for all students to ride our busses. No mask, no entry.
  • First on, last off procedure for entering and exiting our busses.



  • Required for all students. No bandanas or gaiters
  • Throughout the day, students will wear/remove their masks per the teacher’s instructions.
  • We recommend each child bring several spare masks in a bag with them each day that is labeled with their name.



  • The Randolph YMCA is planning to offer full-day off-site care services.  
  • They will also continue to offer before and after care at the designated schools.
  • More information will be available on their website.



  • All meals for all grades will occur in the classroom setting.  
  • Students will wash or sanitize their hands prior to and after consuming food.
  • All classrooms will be considered nut free food environments.
  • There will be no snack time during the school day.



  • Recess will occur with students remaining in the same daily cohort.
  • Students will not mingle with other classes or student groups.  
  • Specific areas shall be designated for each class to avoid cohort mixing.
  • Shared item play and playground use will not be permitted.


Water Bottles:        The bottom part of our water fountains will be restricted so that only the contactless refillable section will be accessible. Please send your child to school with a water bottle labeled with their name that they can use and refill as needed.



  • No visitors are permitted inside the school unless there is an emergency and with an appointment. A drop-off box will be located near the main entrance. 
  • All visitors will be required to wear a face covering and will only be granted access to the lobby area.
  • Visitors will undergo a verbal screening and then will sign-in with our Class III Police Officer.



  • Visual screening will be conducted of all students upon entering the school building.
  • Staff will be trained on the symptoms of COVID-19 and appropriate visual screening protocols.  
  • Students identified through visual screening with possible COVID-19 symptoms will be sent to a designated area separate from the student population for additional screening.  


Field Trips, Extracurricular Activities, & Use of Facilities Outside of School Hours:

  • Rockaway Township School District will not permit any student field trips. 
  • External groups will not be granted permission to hold meetings or activities in the school buildings.


Outdoor Instruction:

  • Much of the safety guidelines suggests being outdoors is more favorable than being indoors, therefore, we are encouraging our teachers to make the most of our outdoor spaces when possible (courtyard, gazebo, etc).


Back to School Night

  • This year Back to School Night will be held virtually, details will be shared soon.

A/C and Windows

  • We have air conditioning units in our classrooms, so with these units and our encouragement of opening windows, we do not anticipate any issues with ventilation.


Attendance Policy

  • Attendance is an essential component to a student’s academic success. We expect the same standards of attendance whether a student is in person, or online. 


SEL/ Mental Health

  • We will be providing daily opportunities, particularly when school resumes for students to work on their Social and Emotional Health.


As conditions of this pandemic change we will likely receive updated guidance/directives and protocols from federal, state, and local sources and we will be ready to adjust our plans accordingly. Even though safety is our first priority, know that our goal is to increase the number of in-person days for all students as soon as conditions allow.

Thank you for your continued partnership and support.



Jennifer Macones, Principal