CLIFFSIDE PARK, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — In New Jersey, Gov. Phil Murphy is outlining plans to address the impact the pandemic has had on students.
The governor announced $1.2 billion will be distributed to districts across the state to meet the needs of students.
Joel has a second grader who, like many kids, has not physically been in school in nearly one year.
“There was sometimes where he was a little sad, I guess, or he was questioning a lot as to why he can’t go back to school. Then we can explain to him what’s been going on,” Joel told CBS2’s Aundrea Cline-Thomas.
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Now, the state is providing money for districts to address the impact the pandemic has had on students — from learning loss to mental health.
“This has been a challenging year. I believe that’s the understatement of the century, is that fair to say? But we remain unwavering in our commitment to our educational communities,” Murphy said.
In the fall, each student will be assessed to determine what programs are needed, and starting now, educators will get a chance to review what’s working around the state to know how to best invest the money.
“This resource will help school districts identify strategies,” said Angelica Allen-McMillan, acting commissioner of New Jersey’s Department of Education.
There’s a similar plan in New York City, but there’s even more urgency, as five public school students have committed suicide this school year.
“Kids have been cut off from what they need, what allows them to cope and have hope,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said.
The mayor says it highlights the importance of in-person learning.
Middle schools re-open next Thursday, and he hopes to also add high schools soon with plans of a full reopening in the fall, complete with mental health screenings for each student.
“A lot of kids have been through nothing short of trauma. They will need more support. Some of them will need a lot of support, will need to be, you know, have an opportunity to go into therapy, if that’s what’s right for them,” de Blasio said.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the suicide rate for children ages 10-14 nearly tripled from 2007 to 2017.
This school year has been hard on everyone, and to take some of the pressure off, Murphy is also asking the Department of Education to waive statewide spring assessments. The state is still waiting for a response.