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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HS Picture Day Makeup (2/23/2021)


School Name: Clayton High/Middle School
Picture Day Dates:
Thursday, February 25 – Friday, February 26
Picture Day ID: EVTCZ4J9J
Grades Photographed: 6 – 12
10 am – 12 pm PAC Center 
Remote Students enter PAC at 11:30-12:00 if would like to sit for a picture.  
Students will be called down by grade level to sit for pictures starting at 10am.
10- Seniors
10:15- Juniors
10:30 – Sophomores
10:45 – Freshman
11:00 – 8th Grade 
11:15 – 7th Grade
11:30 – 6th Grade 
11:30-12 Remote Students enter PAC Doors 

Posted in: High School 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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Virtual Incoming Freshmen Orientation Night

January, 2021

Dear 8th Grade Parents/Guardians:

I hope this letter finds everyone in your family safe and healthy.  One of the biggest events for the 8th graders as they prepare for High School is our Incoming Freshmen Orientation night.  We are moving forward with this event, but like many things in school this year, it is taking a new form.  I cordially invite you to attend our “Virtual Incoming Freshmen Orientation Night” on Thursday, February 4th At 6:00pm. At that time, you will be able to view my introduction video posted on the Clayton High School’s webpage.

At the completion of my introduction video, please click the links to view informational videos for elective teachers, Supervisor of Guidance, 9th grade guidance counselor, and the Athletic Director.

You can also view teacher webpages, located at the left of the website, under High School Menu. Click on Faculty & Staff Websites for access.

The purpose of Freshmen Orientation is to give an overview of the curriculum, graduation requirements, course selections, and academic philosophy of the high school.  The videos will be accessible for at least one week.

It is our goal to provide your child with a positive and smooth transition to High School. Please help us to achieve this by attending our “Virtual Freshmen Orientation Night” on Thursday, February 4th at 6:00 pm.


Joseph Visalli

High School Principal

Posted in: Middle School News

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