MAPLEWOOD, NJ — The South Orange-Maplewood School District will not begin its hybrid in-person learning model until January 19, 2021.

Superintendent Ronald Taylor announced the new date in an email to families sent Tuesday afternoon. The initial plan to begin phase one of re-entry on November 12 was scrapped after the district discovered that the MERV filters had not been installed in the univents.

This error was even picked up by the national ABC and NBC New York affiliates.

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During the Oct. 19 meeting of the Board of Education, Dr. Taylor announced that the Facilities Department had confirmed the updates. However, after inspection proved this not to be true the district discovered the paperwork verifying the installation of the MERV filters was submitted to the district before the vendor had even been contacted.

“We are unable to provide details related to personnel matters; however, please know that we hold our administration to the highest level of accountability and integrity, as we view ourselves as servant leaders to our community,” wrote Dr. Taylor while also acknowledging his own responsibility as the first in the district’s chain of command.

Dr. Taylor stated that once the district receives the filters they can and will be installed quickly. According to the vendor’s estimates the project will take six to eight weeks to complete and with the holiday season approaching the re-entry start date had to be pushed to January 19.

The two town hall events the district was set to host this week had to be pushed back to December and the hybrid/virtual preference form won’t go live until then. 

In a discussion of the issue on Facebook, Kim Collins of South Orange addressed what many parents are feeling. 

“They can ensure that the ventilation issue is solved to the extent that it can be retrofitted - they can’t control a pandemic,” she said. Collins’ youngest child is a junior at Columbia High School. With other parents wondering if even a January restart will be safe for teachers and students, she said, “Seems like people want certainty and that’s just not possible.” 

 

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