Parents in one New Jersey city were surprised to learn that their children’s school district was going all remote – just 48 hours before school was set to start with limited in-person learning.
And it’s not just a short term change: Paramus parents received an email earlier in the week that said the district was going entirely remote until November 9. The hybrid model that was planned had to be scrapped, the superintendent said, because so many teachers and staff had called out at the last minute, the schools themselves couldn’t be staffed.
Superintendent Sean Adams told parents at a board meeting Monday night that 13 staff members informed the district less than a week before that they were not coming back. A few days later, that number had jumped all the way up to 50. After an increase of close to 300 percent in a matter of three days, the district didn’t have even close to enough time to replace them.
Adams wrote to parents, calling the November start date an “extremely disappointing turn of events,” and pledging to make every effort to open the buildings sooner if new teachers and staff can be screened and interviewed in time.
Meanwhile, Wednesday was supposed to be the last day of summer vacation for the kids, and some are disappointed they won’t be able to see their friends and classmates for another two months.
“I want to be in school because you can see your friends in school, and I guess sometimes school can be fun,” said seventh grader Nick DiStefano. “At home is kind of boring sometimes.”
Parents were also left frustrated, with working parents scrambling to figure out – once again – how they will be able to manage their jobs while also making sure their youngsters are able to get into their video chats.
Paramus now joins the 31 percent of New Jersey districts going all-remote this school year, while 57 percent are going with what was Paramus’ original plan, a hybrid model.
“Each and every school district is unique. Each has its own unique makeup and faces its own unique challenges. There are no, and can be no, one-size-fits-all measures,” Gov. Phil Murphy said.
A teacher in a neighboring district described it as a domino effect: Teachers telling districts last-minute that they can’t come back to class when their home district goes all-virtual.
“As a parent myself I understand – if I have to go back to work, my children have to go back to school, and I don’t want them to go back to school but that’s the reality,” said teacher Erin Harney.