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Logo: State of New Jersey, Department of Education.

LEA Plan for Safe Return to In-Person Instruction and Continuity of Service
Pursuant to the Federal American Rescue Plan Act, Section 2001(i)

Introduction and Background

As announced in the New Jersey Department of Education (NJDOE)’s April 28, 2021 broadcast, in March 2021, President Biden signed the Federal American Rescue Plan (ARP) Act, Public Law 117-2, into law. The ARP Act provides an additional $122 billion in Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ARP ESSER) to States and school districts to help safely reopen, sustain the safe operation of schools, and address the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the nation’s students. As with the previous ESSER funds available under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, and the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act (CRRSA), the purpose of the additional funding is to support local educational agencies (LEAs) in preparing for and responding to the impacts of COVID-19 on educators, students, and families. Further information on ARP ESSER may be found in the NJDOE’s funding comparison fact sheet.

Section 2001(i)(1) of the ARP Act requires each LEA that receives ARP ESSER funds to develop and make publicly available on the LEA’s website, no later than 30 days after receiving ARP ESSER funds, a plan for the safe return to in-person instruction and continuity of services for all schools (Safe Return Plan) A Safe Return Plan is required of all fund recipients, including those that have already returned to in-person instruction. Section 2001(i)(2) of the ARP Act further requires that the LEA seek public comment on the Safe Return Plan and take those comments into account in the finalization of the Safe Return Plan. Under the interim final requirements published in Volume 86, No. 76 of the Federal Register by the U.S. Department of Education (USDE), an LEA must periodically, but no less frequently than every six months through September 30, 2023, review and, as appropriate, revise its Safe Return Plan.

Pursuant to those requirements, LEAs must submit to the NJDOE and post on their website their Safe Return Plans by June 24, 2021. The NJDOE intends to make LEA ARP ESSER Fund applications available in EWEG on May 24, 2021, and LEAs will submit their Safe Return Plans to the NJDOE via EWEG. To assist LEAs with developing their Safe Return Plans, the NJDOE is providing the following template.

This template incorporates the federally-required components of the Safe Return Plan. The questions in the template below will be included in the LEA ARP ESSER Fund application in EWEG. LEAs will submit responses to the questions within the LEA ARP ESSER Fund application in EWEG by June 24, 2021.  The NJDOE hopes that this template will allow LEAs to plan for that submission effectively and easily post the information to their websites as required by the ARP Act.

Note that on May 17, 2021, Governor Murphy announced that upon the conclusion of the 2020-2021 school year, portions of Executive Order 175 allowing remote learning will be rescinded, meaning that schools will be required to provide full-day, in-person instruction, as they were before the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency. The NJDOE and New Jersey Department of Health will share additional information regarding State requirements or guidance for health and safety protocols for the 2021-2022 school year as it becomes available.

Template: LEA Plan for Safe Return to In-Person Instruction and Continuity of Services

LEA Name: Weehawken Township School District

Date (06/15/2021):        Date Revised (mm/dd/yyyy):

1. Maintaining Health and Safety

For each mitigation strategy listed below (A–H), please describe how the LEA will maintain the health and safety of students, educators, and other staff and the extent to which it has adopted policies, and a description of any such policies, on each of the following safety recommendations established by the CDC.

A. Universal and correct wearing of masks

Executive Order No. 251 declared mask requirements for public schools must continue to be followed in all circumstances with the following updated exception: individuals on school property, but outdoors and outside of regular school hours, are not required to wear masks.

The following rules will be adhered to:

B. Physical distancing (e.g., including use of cohorts/podding)

The district will use multiple locations for lunches to ensure the maximum amount of social distancing possible. Desks will be separated by the appropriate amount that a classroom size allows. There will not be a use of the cohort model or podding for the fall of 2021.

C. Handwashing and respiratory etiquette

The district will train. Proper hand-washing techniques and ensure access to handwashing/sanitizing stations throughout the day. Furthermore, training will include respiratory etiquette.

An example of scheduled hand sanitizing/washing is:

Washing hands with soap and water is the best way to get rid of germs in most situations. If soap and water are not readily available, you can use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. You can tell if the sanitizer contains at least 60% alcohol by looking at the product label. Swallowing alcohol-based hand sanitizers can cause alcohol poisoning if more than a couple of mouthfuls are swallowed. Children must be supervised when hand sanitizing.

D. Cleaning and maintaining healthy facilities, including improving ventilation

Our cleaning and disinfecting practices at WBOE will continue to meet local, state, and CDC guidelines. WBOE will also develop a schedule for increased routine cleaning and disinfecting, especially frequently touched surfaces and objects. Restrooms will be sanitized daily. These procedures will include two stages: (1) Cleaning, removing dirt and germs from surfaces, and (2) disinfecting, which kills germs on surfaces that remain after cleaning. The cleaning process will require EPA-approved disinfectant products. If such products are not available, 1/3 cup of bleach added to 1 gallon of water is allowed as an alternative.

Frequently touched surfaces and objects

All frequently touched surfaces and objects should be cleaned and disinfected with EPA-approved disinfectant products. Examples of frequently touched surfaces and objects that will need routine cleaning and disinfecting are the following:






Sinks and faucets

Light switches






Window handles



Closet or cabinet handles

E. Contact tracing in combination with isolation and quarantine, in collaboration with the State, local, territorial, or Tribal health departments

A district staff member will be identified to fulfill the contact tracing role and responsibilities. Upon notification that a student, staff member, or resident that has ties with the school has tested positive for COVID-19, the local health department will be alerted and provided with close contacts to whom they may have spread the virus, where close contact is defined as being within three feet for at least ten minutes. The district will initiate the following action steps following the notification of a positive COVID-19 test:

F. Diagnostic and screening testing

Thermal Imaging Scanners will be located at specific locations within each building (as noted below) to monitor the temperatures of all students and staff entering the buildings. Anyone identified as having an elevated temperature will be held for a second temperature reading with a thermometer or relocated to the isolation room. Once evaluated by the nurse, the student or staff member will be sent home if deemed necessary.

Screening procedures must include the following:

G. Efforts to provide vaccinations to educators, other staff, and students, if eligible

All teachers and students eligible for the vaccine can register through the district. This is a joint partnership with the municipality to vaccinate teachers and students 16 years of age and older. If a staff member or students 16 years old or older is interested in receiving a vaccine, they can register through the following URL: ( or complete the form here

H. Appropriate accommodations for children with disabilities with respect to the health and safety policies

In-person and home instruction will be made available to the district students with pre-existing medical or physical disabilities that a physician has certified at risk of returning to school. Furthermore, students will have the ability to have services specific to their needs in person or virtually regardless of instructional choice.  Chromebooks will be provided to all students who do not have access to a device at home. Wifi would be provided to students if it was not available in their home with the distribution of Hotspots.

2. Ensuring Continuity of Services

A. Describe how the LEA will ensure continuity of services, including but not limited to services to address students’ academic needs and students’ and staff’s social, emotional, mental health, and other needs, which may include student health and food services. (1000 character limit)

Social-Emotional Learning:

In addition to the programs and activities already in place, training will be provided to all school instructional staff and administration in areas of SEL, trauma training, and mindfulness through Zensational Mindfulness.

Harassment, Intimidation, and Bullying

In addition, the district will be investing in a digital platform that is implementing a resolve, remediate and restore program. This program utilizes cognitive behavior therapy techniques to teach students the skills they need to prevent future occurrences of problematic behavior. Post-incident and investigation remediation will be a focus of the program. Reporting possible incidents of Harassment, Intimidation, or Bullying (HIB) continues. If any student is being bullied, intimidated, or harassed, our Principal and ABS will immediately initiate a virtual investigation. We will notify the parents immediately and speak to all parties involved. Remediation and restorative practices will follow. Acts of harassment, intimidation, or bullying will NOT be tolerated in a typical school setting or a remote school environment. All students should be tolerant and kind to each other at all times, especially during this health crisis.

We contract with Sage Thrive to provide counseling support for students in grades 3-12 and with Effective School Solutions to provide targeted counseling support for special needs students in grades 7-12.

II. Response to Intervention (RTI)

Each school building has its own Response to Intervention Team that assists staff in coordinating interventions for students and their families in the areas of academic, behavioral, and social-emotional support.

To provide the most effective education for ALL students, we believe we must provide an adequate education for EACH student. In the Weehawken Public Schools, we utilize a three-tiered approach with varying levels of support beyond the general education or core curriculum. In the first tier (Tier 1), the classroom teacher will use different strategies and may use additional or other materials so that your child’s progress is successful. In Tier 2, we employ a grade-level team approach where school staff meets to review your child’s progress and to tailor an individual academic support plan that provides supplemental instruction to your child in the area of need. The Tier 2 interventions are applied for a minimum of 6-8 weeks. During this period, we give your child additional instruction using scientifically-based materials and strategies to allow your child to achieve the educational standards necessary for academic success in the District.

If your child needs additional help to meet the standards, we will utilize a third tier (Tier 3), which provides extra and more frequent support. A problem-solving team meets to address your child’s needs and review your child’s progress during the intervention period. We will keep you informed of your child’s progress with the interventions. At this tier, it may be necessary to alter your child’s schedule and make some choices regarding subjects and provision of courses so that educational interventions may occur.

The district will universally screen all students periodically. The district utilizes LinkIt! platform that acts as our data warehouse. This platform monitors student progress and identifies areas of need. Staff regularly engage in collaborative sessions to determine the focus of instruction. RTI is and will continue to be provided in all instructional models.

The district Child Study Teams continue to reach out to students at risk and provide in-person contact upon school reopening. Procedures are in place to ensure any student in danger is contacted as soon as possible within 24 hours. Additionally, All students have access to counselors and at the high school Effective school solutions. To assist with the improvement of Readers and Writers Workshop models, additional coaching and training will be provided to ELA and Spec Education Teachers for these ELA models. Additionally, Music, Art, Media, and PE teachers will receive training.

III.Wraparound Supports

Wraparound programs such as Academic Support Instruction differentiate instruction to struggling/at-risk students as a preventative measure that supports the general education program. We have a school counselor in each building as well as counseling support services.

A Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) will be hired for a new district position of coordinator of behavioral services. The coordinator of behavioral services will coordinate training, develop individual student and district-wide plans. A mental health clinician will be hired to work between TRS and WHS with at-risk students. In addition, the district will create a new wellness center in TRS. Furthermore, ESS will be returning to the high school that features the mental health best practices and innovative clinical programs into a traditional school day, providing each student with comprehensive support tailored to their needs.

Students diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder, ADHD, and/or other related disorders that have not come into contact with a structured learning environment within the past few months will likely exhibit non-compliant behavior, tantrums, elopement, property destruction, aggression, and/or self-injurious behavior. To best control for these behaviors, staff will require training in antecedent strategies and powerful strategies. These include but are not limited to shaping/reinforcement procedures, crisis management/de-escalation procedures, and a new sensory room in DWS.

3. Public Comment

A. Describe how the LEA sought public comment on its plan and how it took those public comment into account in the development of its plan.  Note, the ARP requires that LEAs seek public comment for each 60-day revision to the plan. (1000 character limit)

The district posted a survey soliciting feedback on the safe return to in-person plan on the district website. The feedback received was incorporated into the plan where applicable.  The district acknowledges that this is a living document based on Governor and NJDOE mandates.

B. Describe how the LEA ensured that the plan is in an understandable and uniform format; is to the extent practicable written in a language that parents can understand or, if not practicable to provide written translations to a parent with limited English proficiency, will be orally translated for such a parent; and upon request by a parent who is an individual with a disability as defined by the ADA, will be provided in an alternative format accessible to that parent. (1000 character limit)

The district posted the plan in multiple languages to ensure inclusion among our non-English-speaking parents.