“It takes a village to raise a child.” This familiar African proverb means that the entire community looks out for and protects the wellbeing of its young.
As the number of coronavirus cases has risen throughout New Jersey and the country, our village: policymakers, educators, parents and community members, have responded in deliberate ways to slow the spread of the virus and help protect our most vulnerable populations. Here’s what we are seeing in the world of education this week…
All New Jersey Schools Closed as of Wednesday
On Monday, Governor Murphy responded by ordering all public and private schools, colleges, and universities in New Jersey to close beginning Wednesday. He has stated that he is working to ensure that every child in need has access to internet and food services. At this time, there is an unknown duration for the school closures and the state Education Commissioner Lamont Repollet told reporters on Sunday that schools could be closed for up to four weeks or longer.
Responsive Education Legislation
The legislature is also responding to this emergency, fast-tracking a package of bills, including a few key education bills.
- A313 would permit virtual or remote instruction to meet minimum 180-day school requirement;
- A3842 would allocate funds to provide or expand access to laptops, tablets, hot spot devices and other technology for students to use in both a school setting or at home;
- A3839 would make a supplemental appropriation of $20 million from General Fund to NJDOE to support school facility cleaning and sanitization; and
- A3840 would require school districts to provide school meals or meal vouchers to students eligible for free and reduced price school meals during school closures due to Covid-19 epidemic.
The Assembly voted on these bills on Monday, and now the Senate will consider some of these bills on Thursday. JerseyCAN provided written testimony on these pieces of legislation earlier this week to ensure that these measures apply not only to traditional public schools, but also to charter and renaissance schools.
Heroic Response from Our Communities
- Over the last week, our educators have responded in heroic ways, by ensuring students can engage in learning online by distributing and delivering activities to students via office pick-ups or school bus drop-offs, packaging up snacks and meals, and more….
- Parents and community members responded by creating environments for learning in houses, taking advantage of free online platforms, delivering groceries to those in need and publicizing Food Pantries to community members in need.
- While JerseyCAN has been focused on the educational community, we hold deep respect for the health care workers and other members of the community who have also responded to the spread of coronavirus.
By the look of how we are all doing our part, it is clear that the entire village is pitching in and exemplifying the African proverb: “It takes a village to raise a child.”