Jersey City's flip-flop on in-person learning sparks protest

Coronavirus Update New Jersey

ByEyewitness News WABC logo
Thursday, April 22, 2021
Parents protest Jersey City schools after they delay reopening
Candace McCowan reports on the protest from Jersey City.

JERSEY CITY, New Jersey (WABC) -- Parents of some Jersey City school children plan to protest this morning, after back-and-forth decisions regarding the district's return to in-person learning.

First the parents were told students would be going back to classrooms next week.

Then came word over the weekend that in-person learning was being shelved for the rest of the school year.

But Wednesday brought another about-face.

And as of now, in-person learning will resume next week.

The current plan calls for students to return in a phased approach. Pre-k through third grade students will return next week, on April 29. All other grades will return to classrooms on May 10.

A statement from Superintendent Franklin Walker on the Jersey City Public Schools website announced that in-person learning would begin Thursday, April 29, for Pre-K to 3rd Grade students whose parents selected the hybrid model.

Governor Phil Murphy chimed in on the controversy earlier this week, saying he was disappointed when Jersey City decided to not resume in-person learning next week.

Parents received robocalls Sunday after the superintendent made the decision to call off in-person learning for the rest of the school year, saying the district didn't have enough teachers to allow students to return to campus.

But after pressure from parents, a frustrated mayor, and even the governor, the superintendent reversed course again yesterday.

"There's a huge educational gap and a huge social/emotional gap for them, and they're kind of at their breaking point," one parent told Eyewitness News.

"If you don't find the solution, you push it off all the way to September," said Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop. "Another 5 months, the deterioration of these families and these children is going to be much more severe."

"The stress is overwhelming for everybody - the educators, the kids, the parents, anybody associated with our educational communities - and all that goes with it: learning loss, mental health impact, pure physical health concerns, etc.," Murphy said. "As I've said, we are back in business in September, Monday through Friday, for educators, kids, everybody, in as close to a normal school year as possible."

Fulop is expected to join the parents who are planning to protest outside the Board of Education building Thursday morning.

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