FAIR LAWN, NJ - School children will still return to school on Oct. 19 after a plan to bring them back earlier was nixed, according to the district's superintendent.
"We're on target to return on Oct. 19," Superintendent Nick Norcia said tonight at the virtual Board of Education meeting. "We were trying to get back by Oct. 5, but we couldn't get it to work."
Students have been back-to-school virtually since September. Since the summer, the district has been readying for in-person classes by completing HVAC renovation, which renews the air every 10 minutes in classrooms, killing 99% of viral germs, and stockpiling personal protective equipment for staff and students. Parents were initially unhappy to learn in-person learning was put off until Oct. 19 and then even more unhappy when the district tried to move up the date to return to school by Oct. 5. The superintendent quickly returned to the Oct. 19 date while leaving the special education date for in-person learning at Oct. 5.
Norcia said there were many harsh emails in the last week after he announced the earlier Oct. 5 return. "I ask for your patience," he said to the board and audience of parents watching virtually.
"Let's be civil," Norcia said. "Your child's best interest is my number one priority."
Special education students are returning to in-school learning on October 5, as approved by the Board this evening.
There were 183 questions at the meeting, everything from parents asking about different plans for returning to school to when the decision for the full plan will be released.
"I respect the countless hours that were spent on the plan to return to school," trustee Mark Spindel said. "I suggest looking at a hybrid model like the one in Glen Rock."
"I suggest getting input from the public, and board members, for the next opening plan," Spindel said. "I don't consider that micromanaging."
Other board members were disturbed at the rhetoric on social media during the past week when a different back-to-school plan was announced.
"There was vile messaging," trustee Cindy Jo Quackenbush said. "We were treated with such disrespect. I ask that you be considerate, words hurt."
Board President Ron Barbarulo agreed. "Other districts have had their problems opening up. You can disagree, you can criticize, but the amount of disrespect...," Barbarulo said referencing the superintendent. "No one should have to deal with what that man has endured."