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Bernards Schools to Reopen Monday, Even if Split Sessions Necessary

Oak Street Elementary School and Cedar Hill Elementary School remained without power midday Friday.

Bernards School Superintendent Nick Markarian said township schools will reopen on Monday even if split sessions are necessary, but he would like to avoid that scenario.

As of Friday mid-day, the Oak Street and Cedar Hill elementary schools remained without power, Markarian reported at another emergency management meeting held at the police station late Friday morning. Township officials said they will ask JCP&L to give priority to getting those schools online, along with the remaining 2,500 or so other customers who were still without power at that time.

Power had been restored at Ridge High School on Friday night. The William Annin Middle School and the Liberty Corner Elementary School were the first two schools to have power restored, and Mount Prospect went back online on Wednesday evening.

All schools will operate on a two-hour delayed opening on Monday

Markarian said all schools will operate on a two-hour delayed opening, unless there is a separate split session schedule in place for elementary schools.

Markarian said that if necessary, he would post the details of the split session arrangement by Saturday on the school's website, which is operating with one homepage that posts essential information. He said he would post the confirmation of the final plans on the website by Sunday if power isn't restored sooner.

Proposal for split sessions at Mount Prospect School and Liberty Corner School

If necessary, Markarian said that Cedar Hill School students would report for an afternoon split session at Mount Prospect, while Oak Street students would attend an afternoon session at the Liberty Corner School.

In order to minimize traffic as much as possible, Markarian said that Mount Prospect students and Liberty Corner students would report to their regular building for a school day that would last from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

The Oak Street students would then report to Liberty Corner, and Cedar Hill to Mount Prospect, for a school day that would last from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m.

The proposal is that buses would take morning students to and from school, and afternoon students to school, Markarian said. But he said that parents would need to pick up students at 6 p.m. since school officials don't want elementary students getting on and off buses in the dark.

Some buses might not be able to operate on certain routes because some roads remain all or partially blocked, and Markarian said as many as possible of the non-working routes would be posted on the website this weekend. But he said that if parents see that their road might be impassable to a school bus, they should plan to drive, and car pool with neighbors if possible.

Markarian said the split session plan would be put in place only if necessary. He said he doesn't know yet if he would implement the system if one school only remains closed on Monday, while all others are open. Oak Street School already was closed one day earlier this year due to a water main break.

The superintendent added he would have special concerns about the district's autistic students if they are forced to have their routines disrupted and attend class at a different school.

Board of Education meeting on Monday night

Markarian said the regular Board of Education meeting, canceled last Monday, will be held at 7 p.m. this Monday at the William Annin Middle School. Along with the regular agenda, the board undoubtedly will discuss how to make up the school days lost due to Hurricane Sandy. School officials already have announced that spring vacation for April is canceled and other days may also have to be pulled off the school calendar to make up the eight days lost so far.

This Thursday and Friday would have been days off from school anyway for the annual teachers' convention in Atlantic City, which also was canceled.

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