By John Burton
RED BANK – With split sessions the order of the day for primary and middle school children, it appears their parents are taking the temporary situation in stride.
It’s a situation that is expected to end on Monday, Nov. 26, Superintendent of Schools Laura Morana said.
Students in the primary school and the middle school have been sharing space since returning to school on Nov. 12, after two weeks of being off because of Super Storm Sandy.
As Newman Springs Road resident Leonora Bernard was dropping her young granddaughter at the 101 Harding Road middle school Wednesday, she said she thought the school’s staff was “doing great” to accommodate the students and families.
Bernard helps her family by taking the child to school for the split session and early release. “I take her so my daughter-in-law can go to work,” and then watches her granddaughter afterward, Bernard said.
“I thought it was going to be a big mess,” said Alicia Loudin, South Street. “But it’s going very well.”
Loudin, whose son is in the second grade, acknowledged she had to do some schedule juggling so there would be someone to pick her son up when his classes end. “I had to call in some favors. But, in the grand scheme of things, it’s pretty minor,” she said, noting what other families in harder hit communities are dealing with.
“Everyone here has been very accommodating,” she said.
The primary school, 222 River St., overlooks the Swimming River. Some of the river flooded the school with a couple of inches. As a result, the school’s carpeting and vinyl flooring have to be removed and replaced, walls repaired and furniture and supplies thrown out and replaced.
Morana had hoped to have the school reopen and operating at full schedule by Nov. 19; that has now been pushed back to Nov. 26, she said. That means the primary school’s approximately 570 students are going across town to the middle school for sessions that run from 8 a.m. to noon. The 425 students in grades 4-8 then attend school from 2:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Jon Caputi, Wallace Street, who owns a local hair salon, said, “as a single dad it’s been some juggling,” with his daughter, a third-grade student. “But it’s all good.
“I’d like the primary school open as soon as possible,” but given the magnitude of the storm and its effect on other communities it’s all right. “I’m very sensitive and aware of that,” he said.
“It’s been very difficult,” said Kim Woods, Harding Road, who has a pre-K student. “Thank God I have a mother” who picks up her daughter and watches her for the afternoon, she said.
Spring Street resident Katie Vetrano said she had to take the day off from work. “I didn’t have anyone” to pick up her son who is in kindergarten.
“It’s been a challenge,” she acknowledged. “But, you know, it’s like a week or two… it’s not that bad.”
Longer than that could create problems for her schedule, Woods said, as she works retail and is preparing for holiday shopping hours.
“It’s creating quite a bit of difficulty,” for his family, said James Tulley, DeForrest Avenue. Tulley has two kids in the middle school and one attending the primary. He has had to employ a full-time babysitter to watch his older children in the morning and then his younger one during the afternoon.
“I hope it’s only a week,” he said. “It puts a big damper on my schedule.”
The district was sending notices home to students’ families on Wednesday informing them that the school’s reopening was pushed back to Nov. 26.
“We’re focusing on what needs to be done to get all the children back on a regular full day schedule,” Morana said.