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School is in Session
With mask and vaccine mandates in effect, local high schools are determined to give students the normal year they deserve.

by Liz Hunter

In a recent letter to families in the district, Dr. Carol Birnbohm, superintendent of Lenape Regional High School District, put the pandemic student experience in sharp perspective. “The startling reality is our seniors are the only cohort of students who completed one full ‘normal’ year in LRHSD,” she stated.


It’s hard to believe. After their freshman year, the rising seniors of 2021 had a disrupted sophomore year that pivoted to full remote learning in March 2020, and a junior year that, although offering some in-person learning opportunities, came with a host of safety protocols to follow and limited extracurricular activities. 


As the last school year wound down in June, most students were in fact back in class, and New Jersey was finally seeing the success of vaccines bring down COVID hospitalizations and deaths. Gov. Phil Murphy officially lifted the executive order allowing remote instruction, meaning all students would physically be back in classrooms in the fall. Adding to the level of hope for a maskless start to the 2021-22 school year—at least for high schoolers—was the fact that students over age 12 could also be vaccinated. 


As of late July, some districts, including Cherry Hill and LRHSD, had not introduced a formal mask-wearing policy, which was in accordance with Murphy’s stance at the time that masks indoors for vaccinated people would be optional but recommended for the unvaccinated. However, as the Delta variant spread this summer, leading to breakthrough cases among the vaccinated, it became clear that there would be a policy shift in the state.


Murphy announced Executive Order No. 251 on Aug. 6. “This is not an announcement that gives any of us or me personally any pleasure. But as the school year approaches, and with the numbers rapidly increasing, it is the one that we need to make,” he said, proffering that he could lift this mandate if things improve.


The official mask policy is the same across the board for schools, and has some breaks built in for students engaged in certain activities. According to Robert Cloutier, superintendent of the Eastern Camden County Regional School District, “As per state regulations, masks are to be worn by all persons in air-conditioned areas in the high school, regardless of outdoor weather conditions. Masks are to be worn in all non-air conditioned indoor rooms and areas and on buses unless daily weather conditions meet the criteria for a heat exemption (currently a forecasted ‘real feel’ measure of 85 degrees or greater—this criteria will be refined for the start of the school year). There is no mask requirement for individuals engaged in high-intensity aerobic or anaerobic exertions, instrument and vocal practice, all outdoor activities and while eating.”


Masking also reduces the need for students to quarantine. An Aug. 25 letter from Joseph Bollendorf, superintendent of Washington Township Public Schools, states, “It is also important to note that the new guidelines from the New Jersey Department of Health state that students who wear masks are no longer considered close contacts when exposed to COVID positive students who also are masked and within three to six feet—and therefore would not have to be quarantined. This is a huge step in helping to keep our students in school during this newest round of COVID.”


Schools have created contingency plans for remote learning in the event of an outbreak or students who need to quarantine. “We are planning a number of contingencies for situations that may occur as we retained our full capacities developed last year,” Cloutier says. “If an outbreak were so severe that we would need to temporarily return to remote learning, we will. However, it would be premature to discuss specifics at this time.”


Another mandate came down from Murphy just two weeks after the mask announcement requiring school employees to show proof of vaccination or undergo weekly testing with the goal of further protecting students and helping them remain in the classroom.


Executives from the New Jersey Education Association (NJEA), the largest teachers’ union in the state, released a statement in support of Murphy’s mandate.


“From the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have called for following the guidance of public health officials to keep the students and staff in our public schools safe. Gov. Murphy has been a great partner in that effort to ensure that our students continue to learn and grow while remaining as protected as possible. … COVID-19 vaccines are the best tool we have to better protect our schools and communities against this pandemic and the terrible toll it continues to take. Public health experts agree on the importance of widespread vaccination.”


Districts are doing their part in hosting vaccine clinics on school properties. LRHSD held one at Cherokee during the summer and both Haddonfield Memorial and Eastern high schools had clinics set for early in September. 


Although educators and administrators have been put in delicate positions and forced to make sometimes unpopular decisions, every effort is made with students’ livelihood at the forefront. Realizing the impact this experience has had on students, schools are adding a variety of resources. In her letter, Birnbohm said, “As we process how exhilarating the start of this school year is for many, we also are cognizant that some may experience trepidation or anxiety,” adding that counseling centers have been open throughout the summer. LRHSD also plans to use federal funds to boost tutoring sessions and mental health support services.


Eastern too has been helping students ease back into classrooms. “The school continues to emphasize social and emotional wellness for students and staff,” Cloutier says. “The district contracted for third-party clinical support for the mental health challenges of students, parents and staff during the pandemic. In addition, the traditional Freshman Transition Camp in August welcomed all students no matter the grade level because, for many students, it will be the first time since March 2020 they will be back in the building.”


Everyone realizes the pandemic’s inherent fluidity, but rest assured, it hasn’t dampened the excitement that comes with every new school year. “We are excited about this return. Our families and staff have been looking forward to this for some time,” says Chuck Klaus, superintendent of schools, Haddonfield School District. “Since we were back at the end of last year, we believe most students and staff are well prepared. We will of course have a strong focus on supporting those who may have increased anxiety at this time and we are looking forward to a productive year.”



Back to School: The 2021 Public High School Report Card


As the new school year arrives and we look toward a return to a more normal learning environment, we examine how our area learning institutions compare in several key academic areas. In order to put together our annual public high school report card, we gleaned information from the New Jersey Department of Education School Performance Reports. With a focus on schools in Burlington, Camden and Gloucester counties, we gathered key statistical data in areas like average SAT scores, graduation rates, AP classes and student-to-faculty ratio. We also reached out to a few local school districts to see how they are handling another school year affected by the pandemic to find out what students can expect. 



AP Classes 

 

Cherry Hill High School East

 

 

30

 

 

1892

Eastern High School

 

 

28

 

 

685

Kingsway Regional High School

 

 

28

 

 

1131

Moorestown High School

 

 

28

 

 

1028

Northern Burlington County Regional High School

 

 

28

 

 

1043

Washington Township High School

 

 

27

 

 

791

Cherry Hill High School West

 

 

26

 

 

676

Cherokee High School

 

 

25

 

 

843

Haddonfield Memorial High School

 

 

25

 

 

672

Clearview Regional High School

 

 

24

 

 

671

Lenape High School

 

 

23

 

 

1243

Shawnee High School

 

 

22

 

 

852

Seneca High School

 

 

20

 

 

600

Burlington Township High School

 

 

19

 

 

255

Collingswood Senior High School

 

 

19

 

 

228

Rancocas Valley Regional High School

 

 

19

 

 

489

Williamstown High School

 

 

19

 

 

364

Delran High School

 

 

18

 

 

172

Delsea Regional High School

 

 

18

 

 

344

Pemberton Township High School

 

 

18

 

 

291

West Deptford High School

 

 

18

 

 

206

Winslow Township High School

 

 

18

 

 

310

Bordentown Regional High School

 

 

17

 

 

197

Gateway Regional High School

 

 

17

 

 

186

Cinnaminson High School

 

 

16

 

 

485

Pennsauken High School

 

 

16

 

 

253

Timber Creek High School

 

 

15

 

 

433

Highland regional High School

 

 

14

 

 

292

Triton High School

 

 

14

 

 

360

Woodbury Junior/Senior High School

 

 

14

 

 

150

Haddon Township High School

 

 

13

 

 

209

Burlington City High School

 

 

11

 

 

134

Deptford Township High School

 

 

11

 

 

142

Florence Township Memorial High School

 

 

11

 

 

122

Glassboro High School

 

 

11

 

 

99

Pitman High School

 

 

11

 

 

95

Overbrook High School

 

 

10

 

 

123

Haddon Heights Junior/Senior High School

 

 

9

 

 

209

Palmyra High School

 

 

9

 

 

54

Willingboro High School

 

 

8

 

 

24

Audubon Junior/Senior High School

 

 

7

 

 

83

Lindenwold High School

 

 

7

 

 

41

Maple Shade High School

 

 

7

 

 

102

Sterling High School

 

 

7

 

 

194

Clayton High School

 

 

6

 

 

88

Riverside High School

 

 

6

 

 

43

Woodrow Wilson High School

 

 

4

 

 

44

Camden High School

 

 

2

 

 

4

Paulsboro High School

 

 

2

 

 

20


SAT Scores 

Haddonfield Memorial High School

 

 

1225

Moorestown High School

 

 

1213

Cherry Hill High School East

 

 

1194

Lenape High School

 

 

1167

Shawnee High School

 

 

1156

Haddon Township High School

 

 

1137

Cinnaminson High School

 

 

1128

Eastern High School

 

 

1127

Northern Burlington County Regional High School

 

 

1124

Clearview Regional High School

 

 

1122

Cherokee High School

 

 

1116

Kingsway Regional High School

 

 

1110

Rancocas Valley Regional High School

 

 

1108

Seneca High School

 

 

1108

Bordentown Regional High School

 

 

1107

Washington Township High School

 

 

1102

Pitman High School

 

 

1095

Maple Shade High School

 

 

1080

Florence Township Memorial High School

 

 

1080

Burlington Township High School

 

 

1075

Delsea Regional High School

 

 

1075

Gateway Regional High School

 

 

1069

Cherry Hill High School West

 

 

1062

Audubon Junior/Senior High School

 

 

1054

Deptford Township High School

 

 

1052

West Deptford High School

 

 

1049

Collingswood Senior High School

 

 

1048

Haddon Heights Junior/Senior High School

 

 

1040

Delran High School

 

 

1038

Williamstown High School

 

 

1036

Sterling High School

 

 

1025

Palmyra High School

 

 

1020

Glassboro High School

 

 

1013

Timber Creek High School

 

 

1006

Triton High School

 

 

1002

Clayton High School

 

 

987

Highland Regional High School

 

 

987

Pemberton Township High School

 

 

986

Pennsauken High School

 

 

986

Winslow Township High School

 

 

985

Woodbury Junior/Senior High School

 

 

985

Overbrook High School

 

 

982

Burlington City High School

 

 

967

Riverside High School

 

 

963

Lindenwold High School

 

 

955

Paulsboro High School

 

 

897

Willingboro High School

 

 

887

Woodrow Wilson High School

 

 

766

Camden High School

 

 

763


Graduation Rate 

Shawnee High School

 

 

99

Haddon Township High School

 

 

99

Cherokee High School

 

 

98

Cherry Hill High School East

 

 

98

Haddonfield Memorial High School

 

 

98

Moorestown High School

 

 

98

Cinnaminson High School

 

 

97

Seneca High School

 

 

97

Burlington Township High School

 

 

96

Kingsway Regional High School

 

 

96

Lenape High School

 

 

96

Northern Burlington County Regional High School

 

 

96

Palmyra High School

 

 

96

Willingboro High School

 

 

96

Washington Township High School

 

 

95

Audubon Junior/Senior High School

 

 

94

Clayton High School

 

 

94

Clearview Regional High School

 

 

94

Eastern High School

 

 

94

Gateway Regional High School

 

 

94

Maple Shade Regional High School

 

 

94

Bordentown Regional High School

 

 

93

Delsea Regional High School

 

 

93

Florence Township Memorial High School

 

 

93

Haddon Heights Junior/Senior High School

 

 

93

Delran High School

 

 

92

Sterling High School

 

 

92

Triton High School

 

 

92

Williamstown High School

 

 

92

Burlington City High School

 

 

91

Pemberton Township High School

 

 

91

Rancocas Valle High School

 

 

91

Cherry Hill High School West

 

 

90

Riverside High School

 

 

90

West Deptford High School

 

 

90

Glassboro High School

 

 

89

Pitman High School

 

 

89

Timber Creek High School

 

 

89

Woodbury Junior/Senior High School

 

 

89

Collingswood Senior High School

 

 

88

Overbrook High School

 

 

88

Deptford Township High School

 

 

87

Pennsauken High School

 

 

87

Highland Regional High School

 

 

85

Paulsboro High School

 

 

83

Lindenwold High School

 

 

82

Winslow Township High School

 

 

79

Woodrow Wilson High School

 

 

63

Camden High School

 

 

60


Student Teacher Ratio

Camden High School

 

 

 8:1

Glassboro High School

 

 

 9:1

Haddonfield Memorial

 

 

 9:1

Woodrow Wilson High School

 

 

 9:1

Burlington City High School

 

 

 10:1

Clayton High School

 

 

 10:1

Lindenwold High School

 

 

 10:1

Overbrook High School

 

 

 10:1

Paulsboro High School

 

 

 10:1

Pitman High School

 

 

 10:1

Seneca High School

 

 

 10:1

Winslow Township High School

 

 

 10:1

Burlington Township High School

 

 

 11:1

Collingswood Senior High School

 

 

 11:1

Deptford High School

 

 

 11:1

Gateway Regional High School

 

 

 11:1

Haddon Township High School

 

 

 11:1

Moorestown High School

 

 

 11:1

Willingboro High School

 

 

 11:1

Woodbury Junior/Senior High School

 

 

 11:1

Audubon Junior/Senior High School

 

 

 12:1

Cherokee High School

 

 

 12:1

Cherry Hill High School West

 

 

 12:1

Cinnaminson High School

 

 

 12:1

Delran High School

 

 

 12:1

Haddon Heights Junior/Senior High School

 

 

 12:1

Lenape High School

 

 

 12:1

Maple Shade High School

 

 

 12:1

Northern Burlington County Regional High School

 

 

 12:1

Palmyra High School

 

 

 12:1

Pemberton Township High School

 

 

 12:1

Riverside High School

 

 

 12:1

Triton High School

 

 

 12:1

West Deptford High School

 

 

 12:1

Bordentown Regional High School

 

 

 13:1

Clearview Regional High School

 

 

 13:1

Highland Regional High School

 

 

 13:1

Kingsway Regional High School

 

 

 13:1

Pennsauken High School

 

 

 13:1

Shawnee High School

 

 

 13:1

Sterling High School

 

 

 13:1

Timber Creek High School

 

 

 13:1

Washington Township High School

 

 

 13:1

Cherry Hill High School East

 

 

 15:1

Delsea Regional High School

 

 

 14:1

Eastern High School

 

 

 14:1

Florence Township Memorial High School

 

 

 14:1

Rancocas Valley Regional High School

 

 

 14:1

Williamstown High School

 

 

 14:1