Reopening New Jersey: Virtual learning starts today for students in Jersey City

Thursday, September 10, 2020
Jersey City students head back to school with remote learning
Candace McCowan reports on remote learning from Jersey City.

JERSEY CITY, New Jersey (WABC) -- It was back to school Thursday morning for 30,000 students in Jersey City.

There was still a bit of that first day of school excitement as students Conwell Elementary arrived with their parents this morning.

"We just met with his teacher, got out supplies," said parent Lisa Caines. "We will do this as long as we can."

"She gives me a lot of books," said second grader Josiah Caines.

RELATED: Some NJ school districts welcome students back with hybrid model

Toni Yates reports on the students heading back to school in New Jersey.

While Josiah met his second grade teacher today, his mother, Lisa, will be doing much of the heavy lifting as Jersey City schools begin with remote learning.

But these first few weeks will be a struggle for some.

The school district is still lacking 5,000 Chromebook laptops needed for students' at-home learning.

"They made the decision late to go entirely remote. So they ended up calling for these Chromebooks in August, and there is a lag because of the demand statewide and nationally," said Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop. "Look, I'm disappointed in it. But at the end of the day we just

have to solve the problem."

For some families that means multiple kids will be sharing one computer.

For the parents of these younger students, they're leaning more on books and worksheets.

And while other districts throughout New Jersey who've returned to in-person learning have students turning up with positive cases - leading them to send entire classes and schools back to remote learning - Jersey City is preparing in case that happens when they return to in-person come November.

"We fully expect that COVID will still be around then," said Fulop. "So we are working through plans on how to leverage the city's resources in order to make sure we are able to isolate situations, contact trace."

For now, parents are focused on juggling titles like mom and teacher.

"I'm a little worried that he's not going to get the social aspect, to interact with his friends get to play with them," said Lisa Caines.

Jersey City's first day comes as three students in other districts across the state have tested positive for COVID-19. Each case is being handled according to each district's own guidelines.

RELATED: Here's how NJ schools will handle positive COVID-19 cases

And all this happens as a back-to-school controversy brews in New York City.

Some teachers who showed up for in-class preparations on Tuesday found their classrooms not cleaned.

There was no soap, and there was no evidence of ventilation inspections.

Mayor de Blasio admitted a handful of schools were missed in the inspections, but the problem is being fixed.

He also announced there will be 100 thousand seats available on city school buses when the year begins September 21st.

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