Archive for District News

Herma Simmons Return to in-person Learning Letter (2/23/2021)

Dear Parents/Guardians:

As a follow up to last week’s letter dated February 17, 2021, I want to inform you of the results of the parent survey. Seventy-eight percent of the parents who took the survey indicated that they support a return to five-day-per-week in-person instruction for first through fifth grades. In addition to this feedback, our school district is continuously analyzing the health data that is available to us. I have met with our Pandemic Response Team and consulted with our District leadership to review the health data. Over the past three weeks, we have seen a dramatic decrease in COVID-19 activity. This is indicated by the recent New Jersey COVID-19 Activity Reports ( Since the holiday season, New Jersey and Gloucester County COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations have continued to decrease as vaccinations are increasing.

With the information currently available, I am pleased to announce that we are developing a plan for transitioning our Elementary School students back to a five-day-per-week in-person instruction schedule. I am hoping this will be the first step back to normalcy for our District and, more importantly, for our students.

As we transition our students back, we will be taking some additional precautions.  As I stated in my previous letter, social distancing will continue to be promoted, but it cannot be guaranteed. We will be adding desk shields to all classrooms as an additional layer of protection. We will also be implementing random temperature checks as students are entering the building. I am also asking for your support by not sending your children to school with a fever or cold-like symptoms. It is also imperative that you continue to fill out the AT-Genius questionnaire. In order for us to have a successful ending to the school year, your cooperation is vital.

We are targeting Monday, March 8th, to start the Phase 3 learning transition back. We will begin with first through third grades. If all goes well, we will bring back fourth and fifth grades starting Monday, March 22nd. I realize that separating the return dates may be inconvenient for some of our parents, but I believe it is prudent to take a measured approach to returning our students back to a five-day-per-week in-person schedule. For parents who do not wish to send their children to school five days per week, the Cyber School remote option will remain a choice. Mr. Uribe will be communicating additional scheduling details in the near future.  

Finally, we will continue to evaluate the health and safety data. As I first indicated in our original back to school plan, we all need to be prepared to transition among the four phases of learning:

                        Phase 1 – all remote learning

                        Phase 2 – Blue/Gold hybrid learning

                        Phase 3 – five days per week reduced bell schedule learning

                        Phase 4 – full-time regular schedule

We have already experienced Phases 1 and 2 at various times this year. It is my hope that as we enter the spring season and as health conditions improve, we can have more students return to Phases 3 and 4. The health and safety of both students and staff will always be at the forefront of all decisions that are made. As long as our community health conditions continue to improve, I see no reason why we cannot attempt to increase the number of students returning to in-person learning. As I stated previously, we will need your help to make it happen. We encourage parents and students to continue following the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention promoted safeguards, such as:

  • Staying home when you are sick;
  • Washing hands often with soap for at least 20 seconds;
  • Covering coughs and sneezes and properly disposing of tissues;
  • Limiting close contact with people who are sick and not sharing food, drinks, and utensils;
  • Practicing social distancing (staying at least 6 feet apart);
  • Wearing a face covering while in school; and
  • Continuing to monitor your health for symptoms.

Finally, I want to emphasize the importance of mental health and social emotional learning (SEL) for our students. As we begin bringing students back, anxiety and school phobia may become an issue for your children. I am also conscious that many of our families have had their own COVID-19 burdens to bear. Some of us are struggling with illness and financial difficulties and maybe even a loss of a loved one. With this in mind, our District is preparing to increase our counseling efforts. Over the next several weeks, we will be increasing our counseling presence to provide our students with classroom workshops on selected topics. I am also encouraging you to reach out to the school if you or your family needs help. Taking care of the emotional needs of our children is as important as any academic subject that is taught in school.

As always, thank you for your support and remain Clipper Strong!!!!


Sincerely yours,

Nikolaos C. Koutsogiannis
Superintendent of Schools


Posted in: District News, Herma Simmons Elementary News

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Letter from the Superintendent – ES Return To School (2/17/2021)

February 17, 2021

Clayton Public School District Community:

I hope this letter finds you and your family healthy and safe. I am writing this letter to inform you of some possible changes to our district Road Back to School Plan. As the number of COVID-19 vaccinations steadily increase and New Jersey’s COVID-19 case rate steadily decreases, it is time to begin thinking about how we can increase the in-person instructional time safely for our youngest students.

We are exploring transitioning Herma Simmons Elementary School students to a 5 day per week half day schedule (Clayton Back to School Plan-Phase 3). We are targeting the week of March 8th as a possible start date. In order to make a final decision, we need your input to help inform our decision. We are asking parents/guardians to complete a survey regarding this possible adjustment to the current plan. When taking this survey, please keep the following information in mind…

  • All Herma Simmons hybrid students would attend school 5 days per week
  • The current 2 days per week hybrid schedule would no longer exist
  • The daily school times would remain the same
  • The use of individual desk shields will be implemented in all classrooms
  • We will be implementing random temperature checks
  • Social distancing in the classrooms and on the buses would continue to be promoted to the extent of our ability; however, it cannot be guaranteed
  • Average class sizes are estimated to be between 14 and 18 students but will vary depending on the grade level enrollment and the instructional program
  • The Cyber School Remote Learning option would still be available
  • Implementation of this schedule change will be based on the feedback from our stakeholders and a continual review of NJDOH COVID-19 activity reports
  • We have successfully implemented a similar schedule with our Pre-K and Kindergarten students

Please click here to complete the survey.  We are asking parents/guardians to respond to this survey by midnight of February 21, 2021. Thank you again for your flexibility, support, and patience in dealing with these challenging times.

We remain Clipper Strong,

Nikolaos C. Koutsogiannis
Superintendent of Schools

Posted in: Alumni News, Cyber School News, District News, Herma Simmons Elementary News

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Return to School ES Principal Letter/Schedule

January 8, 2021

Dear Herma S. Simmons Elementary School Parents/Guardians:

We are happy to announce that starting on Tuesday, January 19, 2021, we will be returning to Phase 2 of our BACK TO SCHOOL PLAN for all preschool, kindergarten and special education program students. Beginning on Monday, January 25, 2021, we will have our 1st – 5th grade students return to the hybrid Blue/Gold schedule. We sincerely hope that an elevated level of patience and understanding will continue to be extended to all of our Simmons family as we sort through circumstances that no one has ever experienced.

We will continue to follow our detailed guidelines for how daily operations would continue throughout the remainder of this year based on current guidance from the CDC, NJDOE and the Office of Governor Phil Murphy. Our primary focus, as always, is the safety and security of our learning community. With that in mind, please note the schedules for the above listed grades and programs:

JANUARY 19, 2021

PRESCHOOL 3 and 4 YEAR-OLDS—->9:15am-1:30pm (5 days/week)

KINDERGARTEN—->8:40am-1:00pm (5 days/week)

SPECIAL EDUCATION PROGRAMS—->8:40am-1:00pm (5 days/week)

JANUARY 25, 2021

GRADES 1, 2, 3 ,4 and 5—->Hybrid Blue/Gold Schedule—->8:40am-1:00pm

Additional information is as follows:

  • The Clayton Cyber School option will continue to be offered as mandated by Governor Murphy. The learning schedule for the Cyber School students will not change, and these students will continue to have the same online teacher for Cyber School.
  • For current information, kindly follow the Herma S. Simmons Elementary School Facebook page and sign up for my Class Dojo page by downloading the Dojo app on the App Store or Google Play Store.
  • As part of the daily routine in order for students to come to Simmons ES, parents and guardians must continue to complete a daily health check on ATGENIUS. This is not an option as we must keep everyone healthy and safe. If you have not signed up for ATGENIUS, please visit the website now in order set up your account for your child(ren) —
  • Please follow all established parking lot regulations when dropping off and picking up students.
  • Food pick up for Cyber School students will take place on Mondays and Wednesdays 9:00am-11:00am. Hybrid students will continue to have a “grab and go.”
  • I know that many of you may have concerns and questions. Checking out our district website is the easiest way to find answers to your questions. However, if you can’t find it there, please do not hesitate to message me on my Dojo account or email me at

Being fluid, flexible and ready to adapt to change will be critical for all of us as we move forward. Thank you for all that you are doing, and please know we truly appreciate your positivity and support as we continue to navigate the 2020-2021 school year together.

Very truly yours,

Scott G. Uribe


Posted in: District News, Herma Simmons Elementary News

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Clayton Cyber School Information – Phase 2 – January 2021

January 8, 2021

Dear Parents and Guardians:

As you know, Clayton Middle School/High School will follow a Phase 2- Hybrid/Cyber synchronized schedule beginning on Monday, January 25th, as discussed in the Superintendent’s announcement on January 7th. This letter is to provide information for both our Middle and High School Cyber School students who will continue to attend classes remotely.

Clayton Cyber School will now be fully synchronized with our on-site classes, ensuring that our Cyber School students receive the same daily instruction as our Hybrid students. Cyber School students will follow a 5-day a week, 8 period shortened-day schedule, signing into their individual classes using Google Meet.  Class attendance will be taken by their teacher during each class. Students not signed on for the entire class will be marked absent.  If your student is unable to attend school due to illness or emergencies, please follow the normal procedure for registering a student’s absence by notifying the main office of the appropriate school.

Apex Learning will no longer be utilized as the instructional platform for Clayton Cyber School. However, teachers will have the option of using Apex lesson resources as an additional resource to the Clayton curriculum, as they deem appropriate. Cyber School grades will be entered into PowerSchool. Teachers will still be available for all Cyber and Hybrid students during their enrichment hours.

Grab and Go Lunch and breakfast distribution for Cyber School students will be Monday and Thursday, from 12:30 p.m. – 2:30 p.m. at the Middle School/High School Cafeteria.

There is a slight time difference in class times for Middle and High School students, so please be sure to follow the class schedule posted by the Middle and High School Principals.

More information will be forthcoming as needed. Please continue to check our Cyber School website, which can be found under “Schools” on the District website.

Please feel free to contact me with any Cyber School questions or concerns. At times, I may be putting out information using the email currently on file, so please let me know if your email has changed.


We are aware that this has been a challenging year in many ways, and we appreciate your support as we make every effort to meet the needs of your student(s) and the Clayton community.


Susan Verrico

Cyber School Administrator

Posted in: Cyber School News, District News

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