PATERSON, NJ - In a plan that Paterson Public Schools Superintendent Eileen Shafer said “looks to best position students and staff for future success after the pandemic has ended,” New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy and New Jersey Department of Education (DOE) Acting Commissioner Dr. Angelica Allen-McMillan announced “The Road Forward” Friday.

“We know our students and educators have had a difficult year,” Murphy said. “Providing our school communities with increased flexibility and support is essential to move our education system forward. The additional federal funds will allow districts to best meet the individual needs of their students during this challenging time.” 

The series of coordinated policy initiatives which dramatically expands the Administration’s efforts to identify and address the academic and mental health impacts of COVID-19 on New Jersey students and educators, and includes the availability of $1.2 billion in federal COVID-19 relief funds to districts, including over $100 million in competitive and non-competitive grants dedicated specifically to research-based instructional and mental health interventions, “will help address some of our students and staff members’ most acute needs during this pandemic,” Shafer added.

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“It cannot be overstated how critical it is to have resources to help support the mental health of our students and staff,” Shafer said. “As we approach marking a full year since the district closed school buildings, we need to do everything we can to make sure our students and staff know they can get the help they need. This funding will help school districts like Paterson Public Schools accomplish this.” 

Also praising the plan was Paterson Board of Education President Kenneth L. Simmons who suggested said that it shows the Murphy Administration has not lost “their vision for enabling school districts to do everything possible to keep students moving forward in their education."

“They are providing vital resources to help protect the mental health of our students and staff,” Simmons said. “We appreciate these measures taken by the state’s high-ranking officials and look forward to working in partnership with them moving forward.” 

Additionally, the governor and Dr. Allen-McMillan said that the administration is seeking public comment and will submit a request to the U.S. Department of Education (USED) to waive federal requirements to administer statewide assessments this spring.  

John Mooney contributed to this report.

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