JERSEY CITY, NJ — 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.
Jennifer Sforza is among those parents angered and stunned by the decision.
“They let our students down, they let our teachers down and then they expect to just sit back and not get any repercussions from it,” she told PIX11.
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 insists the teachers are 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.”
Mayor Steven Fulop did not hold back, categorizing the development as a failure of leadership at the Board of Education, noting that the city had provided numerous resources to the district, including prioritizing teachers to receive the vaccine.
“I just struggle with the fact that New York City has been able to do it, Newark has been able to do it, most of the surrounding districts have been able to do it, but somehow this elected board and Jersey City haven’t been able to accomplish much in the last year,” Mayor Fulop told PIX11.
The school district declined to give any further comment about the situation, only saying Superintendent Walker would address the decision at a caucus meeting Monday night.
Meanwhile, Sforza says rather than agonizing over it, she will instead mobilize. The mother of three announced plans for a parent-led rally Thursday morning outside the Jersey City Board of Education district office on Claremont Avenue.
“If you are fed up like I am fed up, let’s do this – we can do it together, we could make things happen,” she said.