Update on Mendham High School Cohort System

Ana Clara Monaco, S&G Editor

Two months after his original update, Principal Steven Ryan has emailed Mendham High School students and parents concerning upcoming changes to the school’s cohort system. As mentioned in a previous article, he had initially proposed the two-cohort model in early December as a response to the slightly-improved virus conditions within the school, although later deciding to postpone the change and continue to observe case numbers and severity. Admitting that the number of confirmed Covid-19 cases has increased in frequency, Principal Ryan calls upon a “deeper examination of the data” to justify this seemingly abrupt modification of school procedures. 

The school administration has been able to verify, using contact tracing, that the high school building has not been the source or site of any contamination of coronavirus cases. The rotational system in place has, therefore, been effective in protecting students and preventing an outbreak. Partnered with the county-wide decrease in cases, this logic has proven favorable for the administration’s advancement in the reopening plan. Effective as of February 16, this revised learning model will provide each cohort ‘A’ and ‘B’ with alternating in-school and remote weeks, although every Monday will be an asynchronous day for all students. This implementation of a remote learning day into the instructional week serves as a “natural quarantine period if/when an individual must be excluded from in-person learning and activities”. The new cohorts have been built from scratch to align with social distancing regulations/classroom capacities and will be communicated through Powerschool on February 15. In terms of physical preparation for the increase in in-person students, the administration has not increased the count of available seats but is prepared to, “in the few instances where the number of students exceeds the seating capacity”, allow for remote learning in the library. The bell schedule has also been revised, allotting five more minutes for each class and reducing the passing time to ten minutes. Anticipating an increase in remote learners as a response to the cohort change, Principal Ryan has already advised parents to notify the guidance counselor in the case of a modification to their child’s learning schedule. Nonetheless, the announcement is accompanied by “enduring optimism and pride”, as well as an assurance from the administration that they will continue to observe public health data and collaborate with the Public Health Department to foster a safe and effective educational system in these trying times.