PATERSON, NJ – Citing a number of indicators pointing to the continued spread of COVID-19 members of the Paterson Board of Education Commissioners voted Wednesday in favor of a resolution authorizing Superintendent of Schools Eileen F. Shafer to continue remote learning until Tuesday, January 19th. The resolution also directed that school administrators would provide another assessment of local pandemic conditions by Tuesday, December 15.
“Given the predominant local pandemic conditions, we cannot, in good conscience, allow school buildings to reopen at this time,” said Board of Education President Kenneth Simmons. “I thank the district administration for their due diligence in gathering the data to enable the Board Commissioners to make an informed, scientifically-based decision that is in the best interests of Paterson Public Schools students, families, and staff.”
Included in the District’s assessment of the situation was state data that shows there have been 16 confirmed outbreaks of COVID-19 associated with in-school transmission since August, resulting in 58 new cases among students and teachers, the fact that Passaic County ranks third in the state in the number of new cases linked to in-school transmission leading to several area schools to suspend hybrid learning, and a belief that new COVID-19 cases are expected to increase during the winter holiday season.
“The COVID-19 pandemic remains a dominant part of our reality. As much as all of us are looking forward to the time when students and teachers can be together again in school buildings, that time has not arrived yet,” Shafer said. “We will continue to keep the safety of our students and staff as our top priority and do everything we can to make students’ virtual learning experiences as engaging and as effective as possible.”
The resolution also authorizes Superintendent Shafer to modify personnel and identify staff as essential and/or mandate in-district work as she deems appropriate to successfully run school operations.
As remote learning continues, principals, vice-principals, supervisors, registrars, secretaries, security guards, and chief custodians will continue to work in school buildings, a statement by Shafer said. Child Study Team members and related service providers will continue to conduct evaluations in school buildings for eligible students.