Coronavirus News: NJ education leaders debate the reopening of schools

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Wednesday, July 22, 2020
NJ state leaders weigh in on reopening of schools
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New Jersey state education leaders held a meeting Wednesday over the plan to reopen schools and how to protect students from the coronavirus pandemic.

NEWARK, New Jersey (WABC) -- New Jersey state leaders held a meeting Wednesday over the plan to reopen schools and how to protect students from the coronavirus pandemic.

The New Jersey Assembly Education Committee, along with experts, are digging into an issue they've never had to consider executing: reopening schools in the fall, during a year when a pandemic has killed more than 144,000 people in the U.S. and infected millions more.

"We're going to need to think about not opening schools as soon as the day after Labor Day weekend," Mila Jasey of the NJ Assembly Education Committee said.

This is new and critical territory, as evidenced by the concern from the School Nurses Association.

"There will be mass absenteeism of both staff and students as close contacts for those who have tested positive will also have to quarantine for 14 days," school nurse Robi Cogan said.

To ensure school nurses across New Jersey are best equipped for the health and wellness needs of students, the education committee approved legislation that would create the position of State School Nurse Consultant within the Department of Education.

The consultant would work in collaboration with the Department of Health and with other state agencies and stakeholders.

They would also be responsible to serve as a liaison and resource expert on school nursing and to help facilitate the development of school health policies.

Some school districts across the country have already decided to keep remote learning in place, while others consider alternative models like alternating weeks where some kids go to school and others learn from home.

Summer school is in session at the First Avenue School in Newark, where 50 kids actually come in, with safety measures in place.

"We have stations for screening questions that parents and students get to ask, temperatures checks as well as shoe and hand sanitizing stations," principal Andre Barquin said.

Fiona Promo sends her daughters Chelsea and Gabrielle, but she's unsure about the idea of them returning in the fall.

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