By KIMBERLY A. BROADWELL
For Union County HAWK
SCOTCH PLAINS — During the Scotch Plains-Fanwood Board of Education’s yearly reorganizational meeting held last Thursday evening, board members Karen Kulikowski, Deb Brody and Tonya Williams were sworn in for new terms, all of which expire in 2024. In addition, Dr. Kulikowski was unanimously re-elected as board president and Evan Murray was unanimously re-elected as vice president.
Residents voiced their opinions and concerns over the district’s decision to hold half-day sessions immediately following its holiday break.
According to Superintendent of Schools Joan Mast, Ed.D., the decision to go to half-day sessions was the district’s way of trying to help the nurses complete their contact tracing from ever-rising Covid cases within the district.
A handful of parents with younger children spoke at the meeting, saying that they did not like that their children had to have their snack outside in the cold weather.
Gretchen Winkler of Fanwood addressed the board and audience members by saying that her child has special needs and needs to eat inside. She said that she felt it was better for all district children to be able to engage with teachers and peers in a school setting and not in half-day sessions or virtually.
Scotch Plains resident Michael DiQuallo was also concerned about outside snacks. He suggested that it might be better to hold classes virtually for a week or two instead of the half-day sessions.
Other residents thanked members of the board for taking the pandemic seriously and for doing the contact tracing, as they have people within their households with compromised immune systems.
Fanwood Councilman Anthony Carter thanked members of the board for their diligence in handling the pandemic, noting that dealing with the ever-changing pandemic was not “an exact science.” He said, “I know that your decisions are made in the best interest of the children in this district.”
Councilman Carter also thanked all of the board members for volunteering to serve the communities in which they live.
High-school student Christina Decker also addressed the board about the pandemic. She said she is getting increasingly more nervous every day to go to school due to the rising Covid numbers. She also said that she knew many other students who feel the same way.
She said that she loves going to school but feels very uncomfortable as the number of infections keeps rising.
Board member Evan Murray thanked all of the audience members for their comments and said that the decisions made on behalf of the students were and are never taken lightly. He noted that all protocols are taken seriously and decisions regarding the students’ education were monitored daily.
Students returned to full-day classes the week of January 10.
The next Scotch Plains-Fanwood Board of Education meeting is scheduled for Thursday, January 20, at 7:30 p.m., at Scotch Plains-Fanwood High School.
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