PATERSON, NJ – Just hours after Governor Phil Murphy announced a roadmap for the reopening of New Jersey classrooms in September, Paterson Superintendent of Schools Eileen F. Shafer said that many of the state’s guidelines are already a part of the plans currently being developed by the district’s task force on reopening schools.
“The Governor and the State Education Commissioner have always been guided by public health experts and the empirical data they have provided in order to keep people in New Jersey safe,” said Shafer. “We will do the same. In the Paterson Public School District, data will be our guide and safety will be our priority. The health and safety of our students and staff must be, and has been, our top priority. We will be prepared to open our school buildings in September.”
Murphy said that the plan developed by the New Jersey Department of Education focused on four pillars:
- Ensuring a conducive learning atmosphere
- Supporting educational leaders with planning
- Providing policy guidance and necessary funding to schools
- Securing continuity of learning
When asked at a press conference in late May whether or not Paterson’s public schools would open as normal, Shafer responded “absolutely not,” before outlining a series of concerns that must be overcome, including overcrowding.
Shafer said that based on Friday’s guidance Paterson Public Schools are on “the right track” but that there is still “a lot of work to do to prepare for the reopening of our school buildings,” adding that the district has convened a Reopening of Schools Task Force that includes 18 committees focused on different aspects of resuming in-person learning and extra-curricular activities at school buildings.
The committees include parents, community leaders, and clergy, as well as teachers, administrators and other professionals from the district. Already, essential staff and visitors are required to wear masks and maintain social distancing while in district buildings.
“We know that the life students will return to when school buildings reopen will be different from the life they had when the buildings closed in March, Shafer said, vowing to keep the community updated throughout the summer. “We will work together as a community to educate our students as effectively and safely as we can.”
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