Tenafly High School Phase 1: Back to School?


Dina Shlufman, Staff Writer

Overview of the Plan

In a video released on Tuesday, Mr. Morrison explained a comprehensive plan for the reopening of Tenafly High School on September 8th amidst the global coronavirus pandemic. This plan was created by the Tenafly Pandemic Response Team, which is composed of administrators, staff, teachers, parents, and students. The plan was prompted by Governor Murphy’s “The Road Back,” a document that stated that schools have the freedom to decide upon a plan that works best for them, but that they must incorporate some form of in-person learning at the start of the year. The team took into account information obtained via surveys, workshops, and research on other countries, as well as various meetings with the principal, staff, and health services. The goal of the plan is to prioritize the physical health, safety, and social-emotional well-being of students, staff, and parents. Mr. Morrison claimed that the mission is “To return students to school in the safest ways possible, while offering an educational program that is adapted to our situation but is meaningful enough to be worth the effort.” 

While Mr. Morrison acknowledges that the return to school comes with risks, he also believes that not coming back would diminish the value of education and deprive students of social and emotional interactions. The plan aims to allow each student to keep their intended schedule. Classrooms will have less furniture, and any furniture that remains will be more spread out. More broadcasting technology will be used, and certain classes, particularly P.E. and music will take place outdoors. Teachers will be trained on technology and ways to maintain the health of their students, keeping in touch with health professionals and information from the government. The high school will purchase many health supplies, and have punishments for students who choose not to comply with health guidelines.

Freshmen orientation will be conducted over the course of 2 days, and new students will have the opportunity to have an orientation with their guidance counselors. Masks will be mandatory for everyone in the building at all times and students must bring two masks per day. The school will try to get clear masks for teachers. Mandatory masks are necessary for all personnel, as they can have the virus but be asymptomatic. Freshmen may no longer have to sign in when they have an IDT and may be able to leave campus due to the lack of space. If students decide not to leave during IDT, they might be able to go to the cafeteria or the Tiger Study Den, which will have more spread out furniture. Absences will not count if students miss school for coronavirus-related reasons. Classes will most likely be live-streamed so that students at home do not miss the lessons. Grading, however, will return to normal. Also, new pandemic-related rules will be added to the Tiger Q.   


Phase 1

The reopening of the school is split into three distinct phases, and Phase 1 will begin in September. In Phase 1, students are divided into two cohorts by last name, which means students with the last names A-Koo are in Cohort 1 called “Tiger,” and students with the last names Koo-Z are in Cohort 2 called “Pride.” Each cohort will come to school every other day, so on A and C Days, Tiger will have in-person learning while Pride will have virtual-learning, and vice-versa on D and B Days. On E Days, the entire student body will be at home and taught virtually. For days with virtual learning, students’ cameras must be on at all times, but virtual backgrounds are allowed. Technology will be issued through the district. E Days will start out asynchronous but will most likely take place on Mondays. This schedule allows the school to be closed for 3 days in a row while making sure that the teachers’ virtual teaching skills remain sharp. Lunch will not be given at school and there will be no in-person clubs, although virtual clubs may continue. While one cohort is at school, the other cohort must participate in the live lesson via Zoom or Google Meet at home. 


The Fall High School Schedule is as follows:

Block 1: 8:05 – 9:00 – 55 minutes (built-in time for screening)

Block 2: 9:04 – 9:52 – 48 minutes (built-in time for Tiger Rundown)

Block 3: 9:56 – 10:40 – 44 minutes

Block 4: 10:44 – 11:28 – 44 minutes

Block 5: 11:32 – 12:16 – 44 minutes

Block 6: 12:20 – 1:04 – 44 minutes

The schedule every day will be an extended half-day that runs from 8:05 am-1:04 pm. Students will have all six periods each day, with built-in time in Block 1 for health screening. As usual, there will be four minutes of passing time. Dismissal times will be alternately staggered by floors.  

The Fall High School Schedule

Blowing air is an unavoidable part of both band and choir, so these classes will most likely take place outside with tents, or spread out in the gym or auditorium. P.E. must be taught outside and students will receive assignments to complete. In addition, due to the fact that there will be no lockers or gym lockers and students will not change, the only activities that involve sweating will be limited to walking. Family Life and Driver’s Ed will continue to be taught inside. 

There will be no eating permitted inside the building at any time. However, because of how long the day is without food, staff will allow students who ask to go outside to have a snack during class. If students have IDT, they can go outside and take their mask off to have a snack as well. For IDT, along with the cafeteria and the Tiger Study Den, the library will allow students to stay but will have a limited capacity.  

Each class will have a maximum of 12 students; however, if there is an uneven alphabetical split, there may be around 15 in class. If there are more than 12 students, the classes could take place in larger areas or simply spread out more. 

Although the schedule is drastically different, grading and homework will return to normal. If all goes well with Phase 1, Phase 2, in which each cohort returns to school for one full day that includes lunch and has clubs, will begin. If Phase 2 goes well, then Phase 3 will begin, in which everyone will go to school together every day of the week for a full day.



Although Tenafly has a good handle on the plan for the 2020-2021 school year, there are certain aspects of returning to school that have not been decided yet. Among these are the student-screening process when students enter the building and the protocol that will ensue if a student or staff member tests positive. In addition, they need to figure out what to do if/when staff members and students decide not to return to in-person learning in the fall.



At the end of Mr. Morrison’s video on the high school plan, he said, “There is something about…when kids are together, in person that is so crucial to our development as human beings….It is very normal for our parent community to be anxious. I have my own anxieties about my son going into 5th grade at Stillman. But I think we can do this in a way that is safe, and that makes it worth it…[I think this plan balances] the risks of bringing people out of their homes, versus the cost to kids for being isolated and continuing just the virtual learning.”

If you have any further questions on the plan, Mr. Morrison is hosting a Q&A session on Thursday, July 23rd via zoom using the link: http://zoom.us/j/92741188816 as well as one in mid-August.