In person instruction for Jefferson Twp, NJ
This petition is intended to demand immediate action from the Jefferson Twp BOE to give more in person instruction to the children in the district. Specifically, we are demanding that a proposal be made to reopen the district for all grade levels, and implemented in the next 30 days.
Our students are suffering academically, many parents have been getting phone calls and emails from the staff that their children are failing and are in danger of being left back. Most of these students were not in danger prior to COVID-19 and virtual instruction. The students in the HS and MS have only seen about 13 days of live instruction in the past year. We understand snow days and bad weather but there have been way too many closures of the buildings throughout the year. Schedules and teachers have been changing throughout the year giving no consistency to the students, they are constantly changing from in person to virtual days or changing the class period times and who is teaching the class. This is not acceptable.
There are many comparable districts that are reopening, for example Sparta and Mount Olive. According to NJ.gov, there should be a “6 foot radius space around occupants” of the classroom, not 6 feet from edge of desk to edge of desk, as the school mentioned during the last schedule change. It also states “if schools are not able to maintain this physical distance, additional modifications should be considered. These include using physical barriers between desks and turning desks to face the same direction (rather than facing each other) or having students sit on only one side of the table, spaced apart.” There is no reason that Jefferson can not accommodate students by using these guidelines. There have been many studies that show 3 feet is actually enough of a distance when wearing masks as well.
The many benefits of in person learning should be weighed against the risks posed by Covid-19 spread. Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert has said, “School officials should be ready to open for the second semester in late January, at least for elementary school students. District also should share their plans with the public.” Furthermore, he has stated that in person classes should be the “default position”. “The spread of Covid-19 among children and from children is not really big at all, not like one would have suspected. So let’s try to get the kids back.”
We have adapted to new safety protocols at home, in stores, at doctor’s offices, and in sports, so we must adapt at school. We can no longer sit idly by while our BOE fails to plan, fails to act, fails to meet students basic needs and fails to answer parent concerns. Virtual learning strips our student’s ability to be a part of our society, they are suffering psychologically, are unable to read body language, make eye contact, advocate for themselves and to engage in social situations. Sports are able to be played, so why can’t these same students sit in a classroom together with masks on? We are able to go shopping at Target and out to dinner with friends, but we can’t go to school? There is more risk in a store, playing sports, or a restaurant than in a school.
By signing this petition, you support the demand that Jefferson Twp School District and Board of Education come up with a proposal that gives families the option of full virtual or full in person instruction. You further support the demand that the Jefferson Twp School District and Board of Education provide a timeline for implementation of the plan for all K-12 students, and that the plan be implemented within 30 days.
Jefferson Twp parents