JERSEY CITY, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — Jersey City schools will not reopen for in-person learning until September.
Public school officials notified parents of the decision earlier this week.
The decision did not go over well with some.
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Jersey City mom Jenn Sforza said she felt blindsided by the voicemail she received from Schools Superintendent Franklin Walker on Sunday saying, “Unfortunately, we cannot open.”
She said he backtracked on a promise he made to parents to reopen schools next Monday for in-person learning.
“He had all the teachers go in to set up classrooms for this opening date. He was giving us hope. He was making it seem like it was going to happen and he didn’t. He didn’t,” Sforza said.
The school district was supposed to go to a hybrid learning schedule April 26, but the plan was put on hold. Instead, the district’s 30,000 students will continue remote learning until September.
During a virtual meeting, Walker blamed a lack of staffing. He said more than 500 teachers and staff requested accommodations to teach from home.
“Schools can’t safely welcome students with that staggering number of teachers and paraprofessionals working from home,” Walker said. “The teachers willing to come back to work do not meet the required numbers to support a hybrid program of in-person and remote learning.”
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It’s not just parents who are outraged.
Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop also had harsh words for the district, questioning how leaders couldn’t figure out some version of in-person learning when surrounding districts of Newark and New York City have.
Fulop said more than 3,300 teachers were willing to return in person and considering not all parents wanted to send their kids back, the numbers would have worked.
“To me, it’s just the lack of planning and the lack of leadership. The feedback from the teacher’s union was that the schools were just not clean, they were in disrepair. Nothing has been done over the last year to prepare for this,” Fulop said.
Sforza said the impact of remote learning on children, including her own, is detrimental.
“For 12 months, my son has been learning in from of his screen, in his room by himself in front of his screen. How is that not impacting our children?” she said.
Sforza is part of a group of Jersey City parents who plan to challenge the decision. They are organizing a protest in front of the Board of Education’s office at 9 a.m. on Thursday.
“I want them to go them to their board meeting at 6 p.m. remembering our faces,” Sforza said.
CBS2’s Christina Fan contributed to this report