Crystal Feliciano interviewed Superintendent James Earle and Supervisor of Nursing Micah Freeman on Peterson’s Breaking News of Trenton Facebook Page on Thursday, September 2 to discuss what the Trenton Public School District is doing to prepare for the beginning of a new school year as COVID surges continue across the nation. 

“If any of our parents and families and students experience the last few months of school, where they were in person, or if you’ve been to a restaurant where you had to mask up and then went to a mall where you had to mask all the way through until you walked out to take that deep breath, the school will feel that way,” Earle said. 

Earle explained that they are taking the same precautions they took when COVID-19 was at its peak. The public school will continue screening and require a COVID-19 health survey every morning before the student is sent to school. “So that we have baseline information on every child in the event there’s an exposure,” Earle said. “All of those things will continue…nothing has changed. There are just more people doing it now.” 

The only thing that has changed is that there will be no virtual classrooms unless a student has a doctor’s note that the Trenton Public Schools Health Department has reviewed. With the full classrooms, the schools are being diligent with the space they have. This includes using the hallways and empty rooms to keep students as socially distanced as possible. 

“Some of our buildings have added an extra lunch period, so we can reduce the number of spaces in a traditional year where they would be shoulder to shoulder. We anticipate there will be some distance, but where we can’t distance, we’re going to do all that we can to mitigate,” Earle said.

Freeman explained that every school is equipped with a wellness center in the event that a student feels symptomatic. “If someone is having COVID-like symptoms,” Freeman explained, “(they) go to the nurse immediately, they’ll appear in the wellness area… that person’s parent is notified. [The student] has to be tested, and they have to be tested negative before they come back.” 

The student is tested with rapid testing, and in case of a COVID-19 spike, the schools are prepared to go virtual the next day. “[We are] prepared every day to pivot,” Earle said. “We don’t know if we’ll see a spike. If we see it in a school, we’re going to take every precaution to keep children safe. We won’t wait. And we won’t apologize, we’re going to do what’s necessary to make sure families, their children, and everyone is safe.”