SPARTA, NJ – People in the community have shared concern and consternation after seeing social media posts of teachers cleaning out classrooms, bagging student belonging. 

People who expressed concern did not have issues with the teachers.

The concern is that the teachers entering the school buildings is a violation of the governor’s Executive Order 107, prohibiting anyone from entering the school buildings. 

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The consternation is that students did not have access to their teachers for May 14 and May 15 while they were cleaning out their classrooms, during the school year.  Parents were not told their teachers would not be available, they said.

“As Board President I am deeply troubled that our teaching staff members were asked to pack up student belongings this past week, contrary to Governor Murphy’s Executive Order which only allows for essential personnel to be in our buildings,” Sparta Board of Education President Kim Bragg said.  “The health, safety and welfare of our staff is, and must remain our top priority.  I trust that Dr. Rossi will rectify this matter to ensure it does not occur again.”

Sparta Education Association President Susan Sawey said the schedule to have teachers resume the clean out this week was suspended as of Sunday afternoon.

She said the teachers had been directed by district administrators to go but that they were offered “the option not to go if they did not feel comfortable, without ramification.”  Sawey also said “every precaution was taken” including scheduling the number of people in the building, having custodians on hand if their assistance was needed.  Teachers had to bring masks to wear while they were in the building she said.

Sawey said they were awaiting advice from the New Jersey Education Association attorney about the conflict with the classroom clean out and executive orders.

Paterson School District is currently facing litigation initiated by the Paterson Custodial and Maintenance Association over a directive to have them enter the schools to perform non-essential duties, violating Murphy’s COVID-19 executive orders, according to reports of the legal filings.   

Sparta Superintendent Michael Rossi did not respond to a request for a comment about the situation.