JERSEY CITY — After having their last-minute decision to cancel in-person learning for the rest of the school year “a disgrace” by Mayor Steven Fulop, Jersey City’s school board is reversing course and reopening schools for in-classroom learning on April 29.
The announcement was made in an email to parents Wednesday evening.
A “hybrid model” will begin for students in Pre-K to 3rd grades on April 29, according to the Jersey City Board of Education website. All other grades will be able to return May 10.
“The district’s focus continues to be on doing what’s best for children,” they said in the email. “When the district made the difficult decision to remain closed, that decision was guided by science and the realities of safely staffing a district of 30,000 students for in-person and remote learning simultaneously. The increased concerns of parents, especially those with young children, have made us reconsider the decision.”
Following the reversal announcement, Mayor Fulop spoke to PIX11 News and said he was thankful for the new decision and that it was likely the public pressure that made them change course.
“I’m happy that the parents’ voices were heard and that the superintendent reversed his decision,” he said.
Fulop also said they intend to have a full reopening of schools by September based on what school officials are saying.
Parents in Jersey City scrambled after the school district announced Sunday night that it would halt its reopening plan, which had been set for April 26.
Schools Superintendent Franklin Walker broke the news to parents over a robocall Sunday night. The target date to get students back into the classroom is now set for September.
Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop spoke to the PIX11 Morning News Wednesday after learning of the original plan to cancel in-person learning until September.
“It’s really a disgrace,” Fulop said after the superintendent sent a robocall Sunday night abruptly changing plans of when students will return to in-person learning. “It’s a failure on the elected board, it’s a failure on the superintendent, we’re just pushing them to revisit this decision.”
Superintendent Walker pinned the blame on what he said was not having “adequate supervision and instruction” available. Walker cited 458 sick calls from instructional staff last Thursday and nearly 500 absences Friday.
Jersey City Education Association President Ron Greco insisted the teachers were ready to work.
He heavily criticized the district’s approach to reopening where they refused to make medical accommodations for staffers, saying most of those sick calls last week involved those dealing with side effects from receiving their second vaccination dose.
“My estimation is around 3,000 of us are here ready and willing to work,” he said. “It’s the people with the serious illness that is keeping them home everyone is here.”