NJ assembly bill would create ‘safe havens’ for pandemic learning in state’s biggest cities

New Jersey

TRENTON, N.J. — A bill in the New Jersey State Assembly is looking to set up “safe havens” where students in the Garden State’s biggest cities would be able to do remote schoolwork with others while maintaining social distancing and public health measures.

Under the bill — which you can read here — school districts in Camden, Newark, Passaic, Paterson and Trenton would be permitted to create safe havens available to students who are eligible for free or reduced-price meals under the State school lunch program. The bill was approved by the assembly’s education committee Wednesday.

The goal of the legislation is to ease some of the burden on families who have to balance teaching their children with work during the pandemic.

The spaces would be located in buildings owned by the federal government, the state, a political subdivision of the state, or a nonprofit organization. They will be staffed by licensed school personnel who have undergone a criminal history record check and are approved by the board of education. The sites would have access to the Internet and other resources students need for remote learning.

The bill is sponsored by Bill Spearman, Gary Schaer and Verlina Reynolds-Jackson, all Democrats.

“Remote learning hasn’t been easy for any family, but the toll has been exceptionally difficult for working parents, many of whom are frontline workers,” they said in a joint statement. “With children at home all day, every day, and access to childcare limited during a pandemic, parents and guardians have been stretched thin balancing the demands of work and their children’s remote learning.

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