Now that Gov. Phil Murphy has announced that schools will not reopen, districts throughout the state are finalizing plans for the end of the school year.

Lawrence Public Schools superintendent Ross Kasun has released the following letter to the community outlining the district’s current plans.

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Ross Kasun

Yesterday, we received the announcement that we have been awaiting: Governor Phil Murphy announced that all New Jersey schools will remain closed for the remainder of the 2019-2020 school year. We share your disappointment, especially that of our high school seniors, yet we understand the decision is focused on the safety of our students and staff.

Here is what we can tell you now:

School Calendar – Memorial Day weekend will be a four-day weekend with no remote instruction on Friday, May 22 or on the actual holiday, Monday, May 25. May 22 is an Emergency Closing Day built into the 2019-2020 calendar. Schools would be in session on that date if we needed to make up a snow day or something similar.

We are changing the last day of school for students from Tuesday, June 23 to Friday, June 19. As is customary for our district, we build 181 days for students into our calendar although the state requires 180 student days. Additionally, we provided remote instruction on March 20 when schools were scheduled to be closed for a professional development day for staff. Ending the school year for students on June 19th meets the 180-day state requirement.

Closing School Buildings – We are developing plans for end-of-year protocols for students and staff to get belongings that remain in the buildings as well as to return items usually collected at the end of the school year. Safety and social distancing considerations are essential. We will share details once plans and schedules are finalized.

Prom, Graduation, and 8th Grade Farewell Ceremony – Unfortunately, any hope of having these events as we have enjoyed them in the past is dashed. Thus, and in consultation with our legal counsel, we have made the tough decision to cancel the prom. We held out hope to the end, but under the circumstances, hosting the prom is not feasible.

Now that we have the governor’s decision about school closures, our high school, middle school, and district administrators are finalizing plans for alternative graduation and moving up (8th grade Farewell Ceremony) celebrations, again, all with a focus on safety and social distancing. We will share those plans once complete.

Spring Sports – Following yesterday’s announcement by Gov. Murphy, the NJSIAA officially canceled New Jersey’s 2020 high school sports season. I like, and share below, what the NJSIAA stated in their official announcement. I feel it applies not only to student-athletes but to all students who are disappointed by the door closing on their season or high school career celebrations.

“The last few weeks have been heartbreaking on many levels, from the tragic loss of life, to thousands battling the virus, to millions who have suffered emotional and economic loss. It’s been a harrowing time for everyone, and we know our student-athletes are extremely disappointed. That said, these unfortunate circumstances may have put an intriguing challenge in the path of our young people. As New Jersey’s own Vince Lombardi once said, ‘It’s not whether you get knocked down, it’s whether you get up.’ We’re confident all our kids will get back up and stand tall.”

Grade Level Transitions and Orientations – Not only are we working on how we will close out the current school year, we are looking to the fall, which holds its own unknowns. We are planning for how transitions of students moving up from grades 3, 6, and 8 will occur. Generally, our intermediate, middle, and high schools hold orientations to welcome students and families to their new schools as do the four elementary schools for incoming kindergarten students. Plans for these transitions and modified orientations will be shared at a later date.

I truly appreciate your support and patience as we together work through these challenging times. Many of us are grieving…a few for a special someone they have lost, and many for dreams withheld. Take care of yourself, reach out, connect with, and lift others. We will get through this. As always, we remain #LawrenceStrong.

With gratitude,

Ross