This week, Newark Public Schools implemented remote instruction that will continue through January 14, with an anticipated return to in-person instruction on January 18.
Superintendent Róger Leon explained that he made the decision to activate remote instruction, in consultation with the Newark Health Department, in light of a number of factors that have arisen in recent days, including spikes and surges in COVID-19 positive numbers. “This is not the news I want to be sharing with students and their families at this time because we need to continue in-person instruction, but the health and safety of students and staff remains the top priority,” he said.
Newark’s return to in-person instruction this fall included adherence to very strict district health and safety protocols and procedures. With those and other mitigation strategies, including vaccinations and weekly COVID testing, the district created a safe environment in its schools and buildings. The percentage of vaccinated Newark Public Schools students and district staff is itself a story worthy of a headline. In the district, 100% of executive staff, 90% of school administrators, 91% of instructional support staff, 88% of classroom teachers, and 75% of non-instructional staff are vaccinated. The fact that over 83% of students 12 years and older in Newark are vaccinated is incredible, with the opportunity for children 5 and older underway.
In response to the rise in COVID-19 positive numbers in the weeks after Thanksgiving, the district began to implement precautionary measures and asked everyone to prepare for the possibility of remote instruction at the start of the new year. Students were instructed to take home everything they would need to prepare for remote instruction.
“The lives of all of our students mean more to me than anything else, especially since three of them are actually mine,” said Board President Haynes. “We will do everything to protect our children in this fight against this horrible virus and we will get back to in-person instruction as soon as possible.”
Additional resources for students and families are available on the district’s and schools’ websites. For the next two weeks, meal distribution sites will be open on Mondays at various schools from 8 am – 11 am. Meals for each full week will be available to all students and their families regardless of the school they attend in Newark. We anticipate that the City will announce the opening of learning pods in partnership with the district to assist families who have childcare concerns. Upon our return, we will continue the district’s protocols, procedures, and weekly COVID-19 testing in schools.