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MCVTS students learning despite COVID-19 hurdles

MCVTS students learning despite COVID-19 hurdles

The 2,100 students of the Middlesex County Vocational and Technical Schools have successfully completed their first marking period with adjustments and innovations to accommodate COVID-19 precautions.

“I am proud to say that all of our staff and students have risen to the occasion and continue to navigate these uncharted and choppy seas with grace and persistence,” Superintendent of Schools Dianne D. Veilleux said.


“A significant proportion of our students have opted for a fully remote instructional program,” she said. “The nature of career technical education has led us to continue to find in-person schedule options for our students.


“Masking, social distancing, cohorts, health screening and reduced capacity have enabled the district to offer a safe learning environment,” Veilleux said. “Positive cases are responded to with contract tracing and quarantining as required by public health guidelines. There have been no cases of school-based transmission in our schools.”


Assistant Superintendent of Schools Jeffrey Bicsko said the district consults regularly with the Middlesex County Department of Health to ensure safety guidelines are being followed. Custodial staff sanitize classrooms, offices and public spaces daily.


Students on the East Brunswick, Perth Amboy and Piscataway campuses have been attending career-major classes in person in half-day sessions, with dismissal at noon. After an at-home lunch break, virtual academic classes take place in the afternoon.


At the two academies, parents have the option of sending students to school for class or keeping them at home for virtual classes. At the Middlesex County Academy for Science, Mathematics and Engineering Technologies in Edison, in-person classes are being held five days a week at 25 percent capacity. At the Middlesex County Academy for Allied Health and Biomedical Sciences in Woodbridge, the students have been divided into cohorts for all-day classes under a hybrid schedule.


“Piscataway Campus has been working diligently to adjust to our new normal and ensure the needs of all students are met,” said Principal Nicole Slade. “Google meets and Zoom sessions are now second nature to our daily routines for learning, social and emotional support, and community engagement.”


“Antonia Mastrella, culinary arts instructor, often has live sessions simultaneously with her students in the kitchen and virtually,” she added. “Julia Henry, music instructor, is helping students with their social and emotional learning skills through virtual music classes. She is also organizing a virtual talent show for students to showcase their talents through Zoom.”


Horticulture instructor Justin Sadowski has been meeting with students involved in FFA (the former Future Farmers of America). The students are preparing fundraisers for the holiday season involving online orders for centerpieces and wreaths.


The Piscataway Campus counseling department has held eight virtual college information sessions via Zoom to help seniors with the application process.


Principal John Jeffries reported that Edison Academy held a virtual open house on YouTube using a management program called StreamYard. It included an introduction, a prepared video, and a Q&A. More than 250 visitors tuned in. Video of the session remains available on the school website.

The Edison Academy also held a virtual induction ceremony for the National Honor Society, coordinated by student Erin Tan, a senior from North Brunswick.

Principal Michael Cappiello reported that the East Brunswick Campus held a virtual back-to-school night in September via Google Meets.

The annual School of the Arts Senior Showcase was held in late October as a drive-in event in the campus parking lot, with the option to join virtually. Building services students built a stage, and a giant inflated screen was purchased with funds raised by the parents’ association.

The East Brunswick Campus is now offering a virtual tour that is available on its website at and It was created by digital film students and their instructor, Louis Libitz.

East Brunswick School of Career Development biology teacher Andrew Bohackyj and a guest veterinarian held a virtual class in which a fetal pig was dissected. More than 50 students logged on. Bohackyj was a marine biologist before going into teaching.

The New Jersey Institute of Technology Honors College held a virtual  admissions day exclusively for Woodbridge Academy students on Nov. 24.

All five campuses fielded soccer teams, and the East Brunswick Campus also competed in cross country. All the soccer teams participated in the state tournament, and the cross-country team ran in the sectional tournament. East Brunswick soccer player Dennis Noon, a senior, recorded 100 goals in his career, and sophomore Justin Noon broke the school record in assists. Senior goalkeeper Jayson Vassalo broke the school career record for saves.