The Return to Virtual Learning

Hillsborough High School's new, full-day schedule for virtual learning.

courtesy of Karen Bingert

Hillsborough High School’s new, full-day schedule for virtual learning.

Sam Renz, World Views editor

On Friday, Nov. 20, at 10:42 a.m. EST, Lisa Antunes, Superintendent of Hillsborough Township Public Schools, sent an email to the students and parents of the school system to inform them that all Hillsborough schools will transition to fully-virtual learning, effective Nov. 23, until at least Dec. 4. While the week of Nov. 23 followed the same schedule as we have been using, with A, B, and all virtual days, the schools will use a full-day schedule, starting Nov. 30. 

As described by Antunes, the transition back to virtual learning is a result of our region, the Central West region of New Jersey, being labeled as an area of high activity for the pandemic. To avoid the risk of transmission of the disease during school, at school activities, or on the students’ buses, the district’s school physician and Hillsborough Township Health Department decided to enact this period of virtual learning. 

In addition to these two weeks of fully virtual learning, students who have been attending school in person during the hybrid schedule have been given another option: these students can rescind their decision to attend school in person until 2021. For those who want to avoid contact with other students as New Jersey takes on the second wave of COVID-19, they now have the option to learn remotely between Thanksgiving and Christmas and return to school after Winter break. 

As usual, students are also required to disclose any holiday plans with the district’s health officials; if someone is traveling out-of-state for the holidays, they must notify the school officials and self-quarantine for a 14-day period, as per Governor Murphy’s and the CDC’s guidelines. Regardless, Antunes clarified that it is unlikely that we will be able to return to in-person learning by Dec. 4 anyway, so students’ Thanksgiving plans are unlikely to affect their attendance in school. 

For these few weeks of fully-remote instruction, the schedules will be updated to allow students to attend all of their classes every day, as opposed to having A days and B days in which students attended only half the classes for longer periods of time to reduce the contact between students attending school in person. As for Hillsborough High School, starting Nov. 30, students will attend each class period for 45 minutes, with a 30-minute lunch break between the period 4/5/6 and 6/7/8 classes. 

Many students are upset that the school days will end later than they have been, and with such short notice, with the last period for the high school ending at 1:45 p.m. every day. As a result of this sudden change, students with part-time, scheduled jobs have to rearrange their work schedules, which is often difficult depending on their jobs’ flexibility. Also, teachers now have to rearrange their syllabi, which were created with the expectation that they would meet with each class three days a week. 

Students and parents, unsure when this virtual period will end, are hoping to have their questions answered soon. Needless to say, this change will require a lot of adjustment from Hillsborough families.