By CBSNewYork Team

MAPLEWOOD, N.J. (CBSNewYork) – Maplewood-South Orange school district is indefinitely all-remote after the district says it can’t staff the schools.

Teachers are citing safety concerns.

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As CBS2’s Meg Baker reports, signs held by some parents and kids who protested in December read “open the schools,” calling on the district to give families a choice and begin hybrid, in-person learning.

“They have not set foot in the school buildings in almost a year now,” said parent April Mason.


Her daughters haven’t met their teachers.

“Just become really bored and disengaged,” Mason said. “Hard to expect an 11-year-old to sit on Zoom for five hours a day.”

The teachers union says educators were excited by the prospect of seeing students, but safety protocols were not enforced by the district. They cite unfit rooms without proper ventilation – a similar situation in the nearby Montclair district with 100-year-old buildings.

Stacey Lawrence teaches at Columbia High School.

“A lot of the public schools are terribly neglected. And that’s now being revealed for all to see in this unfortunate way,” Lawrence said.

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But some kids are in the buildings. The Y runs learning pods.

“Helping kids with distanced learning, log on, little pods. It’s very expensive,” said parent Anna Ferguson.

Her son, who has special needs, attends but she says it’s not enough.


“As months go by he continues to regress physically, emotionally and educationally,” Ferguson said.

“They’re definitely not getting all that they need. I think people are trying really hard, but I mean, certainly emotionally… just sort of isolated,” Lawrence said. “That’s happening all over.”

The superintendent would not go on camera.

Teachers are still waiting to hear when they will be eligible for vaccination.

The teachers union also says the district failed to process – or outright denied – high-risk staff the accommodation to work from home, making them use sick days.

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Meg Baker contributed to this report.

CBSNewYork Team