Split Sessions at Pinelands Could End in Mid-November

Oct 25, 2017
Photo by: Ryan Morrill

The situation at the Pinelands Regional School District has apparently calmed down as students entered the second week of split sessions at the junior high school building after safety concerns temporarily closed the high school.

The Facebook chatter slowed considerably compared to a few weeks ago when parents were worried about asbestos and air quality relating to a roof replacement project at the high school. The final straw came on Thursday, Oct. 12 when a screw fell from the roof of the high school’s large “commons” area, sometimes called “the atrium” and reportedly plunked a student on the head. Acting Pinelands Regional School District Superintendent Cheryl Stevenson (Interim Superintendent Maryann Banks was overseas on vacation) and the administration immediately decided to close the high school and move to split sessions for an “undetermined” period of time.

That decision caused a new wave of parental worries, expressed at both well-attended parents meetings with the administration and on social media. In the past week however there were only a few online posts that complained about the split sessions. One thread started with this post:

“To my fellow parents of children in the Jr. High & high school students: Are your children all screwed up with the recent schedule changes at the school? Are your kids stressed like mine are? Doing major assignments at home when they should be in a classroom setting? I’m so furious. My kids are stressed. Please enlighten me so I don’t lose it on the administration.”

Some agreed with the upset mother.

“With no teacher or classroom help my son is beyond stress trying to do Google Classroom,” one posted. “Why can’t we just get mobile units (trailers) in and let all the education begin finally?”

“Yup,” wrote a man. “Both stressed out. And there’s a fix for the screw issue (a safety net) that would take a week. Wonder if they are looking into it.”

More parents, however, said things were working out.

“The girls schedule is working out great,” one mom wrote. “They love getting up late. I love getting up late. No complaints here.”

“We have no issues,” said another woman.

“My kids are doing better now,” said another mom. “It was just the whole change that had them worried but so far all is good.”

“Everything is fine,” read a quick post.

“Nope, all is fine here with my 2 that are in school,” said a dad.

Later last week “normality” returned. There were fewer and fewer online complaints. Instead there were postings about such things as “McTeachers Night,” a fundraiser at the local McDonald’s, Homecoming Spirit Week and the high school football team.

The situation may not last much longer, which will make the debate over split sessions moot.

Interim Superintendent Banks returned on Monday, Oct. 16 and, in a press release issued on Oct. 18, said of split sessions, “We want to stress that this is a temporary, short-term solution, and that we expect to be back in the high school on a full schedule sometime in mid-November.

“We are also working on a plan to revise the school calendar to make up the five days the PRSD was closed, as students are required to have 180 days of school.

“I will continue to provide updates to parents and the press through press releases, meetings, and use of the district website. Thanks to all of the school community members for your continued patience throughout this matter.”

— Rick Mellerup



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