SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ - South Plainfield Board of Education (SPBOE), at an in-person Committee of the Whole meeting Feb. 10, unanimously approved a resolution requesting New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy include public school district personnel in the official expert vaccine allotment panel's definition of frontline workers.
The COVID-19 Vaccination Plan published by the State of New Jersey Department of Health last month (https://nj.gov/health/legal/covid19/NJ%20Interim%20COVID-19%20Vaccination%20Plan%20-%20Revised%2012-15-20.pdf), prioritizes the availability of vaccines to 'essential workers' in Phase 1B of the vaccine protocol (pages 36-37); teachers, however, are not included.
Under the resolution, the SPBOE is requesting that the state acknowledge that "school district staff at all levels are essential to the day-to-day operations of this district, responsible for the thorough and efficient education of all students and their social and emotional wellbeing, are critical for virtual and in-class instruction and are 'essential workers.'"
"…I don't know why it took so long for this resolution to come forward; I am glad that it is on [the agenda]," said SPBOE member Debbie Boyle during the meeting. "I know that the governor has put out there that he is on board with having the teachers be prioritized but they haven’t been mandated yet but I am glad this is on here."
In the resolution, the district noted that, due to the pandemic, it has 'acknowledge[d] the guidance from the federal and state level detailing the precautionary measures schools must implement to stop [the] spread of this disease,' and notes that ''public schools have a profound impact on millions of students, families and staff and are charged with the care, education, nourishment of their students and are an integral part of the health and safety of our communities.'
"Our district has responded to the challenges brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, providing students and staff members with the technology and resources necessary to ensure the efficient delivery of instruction, virtually and in-person; and…the board has a substantial public interest in protecting the health and safety of its students, staff, and community and ensuring that the district can provide staff and students with a safe and effective educational environment that supports student achievement," states the resolution. "…[T]he board recognizes that this health emergency made it necessary to close schools and reinvent the educational programs in a virtual setting and that this may have an adverse impact on student achievement and the emotional and social well-being of students."
"A fully functioning educational/school system is critical to the overall wellness of society. I fully believe getting children back into school full time would accelerate the recovery process for our entire society," SPBOE President Doug Chapman told TAPinto South Plainfield following the meeting.
"The educational, intellectual, emotional, and social damage to our children is massive. The impact on families socially, emotionally and financially is massive. A fully functioning school district is vital to recovery from these issues," he added.
It goes on to add that the SPBOE 'finds a substantial public purpose exists to request that Governor Murphy give appropriate priority in the statewide administration of the COVID-19 vaccine to all public school district personnel.'
The resolution is scheduled to be forwarded to the governor's office and to members of the 18th Legislative District delegation, Assembly Speaker Craig J. Coughlin, Senate President Stephen M. Sweeney, and New Jersey School Boards Association, later this week.
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