MARLBORO, NJ – The state’s largest association of principals and school supervisors said this week they oppose students, teachers and faculty returning to school in September. Patricia Wright, Executive Director of the New Jersey Principals and Supervisors Association said her union wants back to school in September to be remote-learning only.
The New Jersey Principals and Supervisors Association (NJPSA) has consistently raised concerns about the lack of universal, mandatory state health requirements for all schools in the state.
“Ambiguous health and safety “guidelines” provide, what we believe, is a dangerous level of flexibility in an area where educators are not the experts — public health. Science, not funding, staffing or the ability to secure PPE, should determine what needs to be in place to ensure maximum safety. Our students should not be subject to inequity in the level of health safety they receive at school by virtue of their zip code,” Wright said. “It is in this context that the NJPSA has reached the conclusion that New Jersey schools should begin the 2020-2021 school year virtually. Beginning the school year with statewide remote learning recognizes the critical fact that we simply cannot safeguard our students, our staff and our communities from this highly contagious and lethal virus without the necessary tools to do so.”
Remote learning has challenges, not just for school planning but for children.
“We understand that remote learning raises its own list of challenging issues from the digital divide, to the opportunity losses in learning experienced by many students, to child-care concerns of parents needing to return to work,” she added. “However, even if schools open with a hybrid plan, we still would not have adequately addressed these issues. If students or staff become ill and schools have to return to fully virtual instruction, these issues remain. Yet, by making the decision to return to school remotely now, we can turn our collective creativity and resources to addressing those issues together. The clock is literally ticking and quite loudly.”
Wright said returning to an at-home self-taught curriculum for students is just a temporary solution.
“We must remember that beginning the school year with remote learning is a temporary solution, and that a full return to in-person learning is (hopefully) just around the corner. School districts have been hard at work all summer planning for reopening and will continue to develop and improve their preparations and instructional plans to transition students back to the classroom equitably and safely, as soon as the time is right,” she said.