NEWARK, NJ — On Aug. 17, Newark Superintendent of Schools Roger Leon, with the full support of the Newark Board Education, came to the decision that all Newark public schools would continue operating remotely for the first marking period of the 2020-’21 school year. In an effort to move forward during this challenging time, the superintendent established and tasked the NBOE Task Force for the Reopening of Schools who devoted its time to and served guidance for both in-person instruction and remote learning.
“We had to consider the safety of our students and staff above all else,” Leon said. “We are prepared to continue offering our students instruction with rigor and to do so creatively, so that our students maintain their competitive edge.”
“We, the NBOE school board, have come to a consensus that we agree with Superintendent Leon’s decision to continue virtual instruction at all Newark public schools. The COVID-19 pandemic as it stands is still a large public health risk and it will be treated as such. This being said, the public health and safety of our students and staff will continue to be held to the highest standard,” BOE President Josephine Garcia said.
The plan to reopen schools began in March, as the superintendent, along with the board and the task force worked to address key areas for a smooth transition back. Those areas consisted of: conditions for learning, leadership and planning, policy and funding, and continuity of learning, while drawing attention to areas of concerns like academic instruction and social-emotional learning.
“As a parent on the task force, I was able to see firsthand and be a part of the hard work of everybody involved in important and essential decision-making,” Yolanda Johnson said. “A really good job with parents at the table.”
John Abeigon, president of the Newark Teachers Union, said, “The NTU has worked from day one closely with the Reopening Task Force, state, city, district and AFT on what reopening would look like, and we are grateful to see that the superintendent considered all of the facts and made the right decision to allow the district to operate remotely under the circumstances.”
The decision for all Newark public schools to operate remotely was not one that was made lightly.
Wilhelmina Holder, president of the Secondary Parent Council, said, “In light of the revised reopening plans, I think this is the best strategic move at this time given all unknown variables from the NJDOE, the N.J. Health Department and the Murphy administration. Challenging moments as these require courageous leadership as exhibited by this team in Newark.”
For all questions and concerns regarding next steps, the Newark Board of Education encourages all parents and guardians to reach out to their respective school’s principal for further assistance.