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West Orange School District Postpones Nov. 9 Hybrid Cohort Model Launch

WEST ORANGE, NJ - Plans to commence operation of the Hybrid Cohort Model on Nov. 9 have been postponed by Superintendent Dr. Scott Cascone.


Several reasons were cited for the postponement.


"On Oct. 31, an earnest conversation began involving myself and representatives of the West Orange Office of Emergency Management, Department of Health, and our district physician," began Dr. Cascone.


"The focus of the conversation was the advisability of substantially increasing the occupancy of indoor facilities, the district’s schools, contemporaneously with a significant rise in cases in the town and without additional time to assess the degree to which this uptick is simply a “flash in the plan” or the beginning of a more prolonged second wave," he continued.


"Two cardinal rules of administrative decision making have always been the preservation of student and staff safety and heeding the guidance and counsel of qualified experts. Having received a written opinion from the district physician and with support of the West Orange Department of Health to postpone the Hybrid model, I feel obliged to follow this guidance at this time," Cascone explained.


 Remote learning will continue with a commitment from the district to:


  • Resume the fall virtual schedule on Monday, Nov. 9.
  • Modify the daily schedules to afford students additional live instruction. This “winter virtual” schedule will commence at the beginning of the second marking period/trimester. 
  • Trends in new confirmed cases will be monitored and reviewed on a weekly basis with the public health and medical authorities to assess risk level and the advisability and safety of commencing the hybrid model. 
  • Present district operations will remain constant with an evaluation and effort to scale up on the introduction of additional, smaller cohorts of specialized populations and students in need of on-site supports. 
  • An increased emphasis will be placed on social emotional supports including opportunities for socialization either virtual and/or in person when safe to do so, as well as fostering a higher level of student engagement and interaction within the virtual learning platform. 


The information was presented during a special virtual Board of Education meeting on Nov. 4 that was attended by several hundred staff, parents, and community members. Reactions to the postponement were mixed.


"You can expect that district and school level communication will be frequent and transparent as I and the district’s staff work to support your children and you in reconciling this disappointing albeit prudent change in plans. I thank you in advance for your attention and understanding." concluded Dr. Cascone in his letter to parents and faculty on Nov. 5.

Cynthia Cumming
Nov. 5, 2020