Superintendent's Message

Friday September 11, 2020
 
 
Superintendent's Welcome Back 2020-2021 School Year
 
 
 
 

September 6, 2020

Greetings parents,

 

This week we begin classes for the 2020-2021 school year.  First, let me thank you for your support and understanding. As a school district, we responded to the unexpected invasion of COVID-19 in the Spring and continue to cope with the unprecedented changes.  Not only did we finish the school year differently, but now we are resuming classes remotely. 

 

We can play the blaming game, but that reality is that it is a learning process for all, and as a public entity, the JCPS must adhere to numerous regulations filled with bureaucracy.  Our goal is to close the digital gap and have a device for every child who needs it, and we have enough Chromebooks at this time.  The second goal is to provide a 1 to 1, in other words, a device for every child, which will take in October and November when the additional 10,000 devices come in.   Additionally, every school and department review its budget and continue to purchase Chromebooks to maintain school devices.

 

The Road Back Plan recommends that districts supplement gaps in student access to devices and connectivity. The Plan does not mandate any purchases because the State would need to provide more money.  It is public information that the JCPS has experienced a reduction in funding. We are currently involved in litigation.  The City has been helpful, and the payroll tax has helped, but it is not enough.

 

During this unprecedented time, we are all trailblazers forging new paths and making adjustments as necessary.  If your child does not have a device to use, contact the school; all distributions will occur at the schools.  You will have a scheduled time and date to pick-up a Chromebook to allow for social distance.  If you are fortunate to have a computer and connectivity for your child, please let the school know that your need is not immediate, and you can wait. 

 

Please visit the website where I have a detailed explanation of a typical student schedule.  Teachers will receive their plans on Tuesday when they return to work.  Then you will receive your child's specific classes and times. 

 

We are all anxious about this new experience.  Let's work together and help one another.  Have a wonderful holiday weekend as we honor the contributions workers have made to our country's strength, prosperity, and well-being.  Please continue to be safe. 

 

Thank You.

Franklin Walker

Superintendent of Schools

Superintendent Franklin Walker and Assistant Superintendent Ellen Ruane
discuss the Reopening Plan and Sample Student Schedules for Phase 1 Remote Learning. 
 
 

August 30, 2020 

Good evening parents,

 

I am very excited to begin the 2020-2021 school year. It was an unforgettable summer, but I hope you had time to spend time with your family because many of us have experienced a loss. Despite the Pandemic, the beginning of the school year brings new relationships and endless opportunities. We have high expectations for our students, and everyone will support our students' academic and social-emotional growth. We are Educating for Greatness by developing a vision of doing what is best for all students and making them academically competitive in a global society. The custodial, maintenance, clerical staff, and administrators have been busily preparing to ensure that we meet our students' developmental needs while we provide enrichment, acceleration, resources, and support. Classes resume on September 10th, and we need to be ready. Remote learning will be very different from last Spring when we implemented a home-instruction model. During this upcoming school year, we must provide a full day of instruction during the 180 days of classes.  We also know that excellent teaching requires face-to-face interactions and independent activities. While students will be learning the full day, the amount of time they spend in front of the screen will be developmentally appropriate based on their age and development. The school day will include core subjects such as language arts, mathematics, science, and social studies. It will also include activities to promote social-emotional well-being, physical activities, music, the arts, and time for lunch. During August, many teachers participated in professional development. We are also working with the Administrators who returned to school last week to share our expectations, develop plans, and create specific school schedules. 

 

This school year, our practices will be different to ensure our students, staff, and community's safety. We will need to limit or schedule visitors to the school, but our administrators are working in the school so you can call with questions and concerns. The principals will be sending all the parents messages for each particular school to avoid confusion, including the specific schedule for your child based on their grade. At the district level, we will be sharing samples to help parents organize their day. The examples will show the typical day of a teacher to help you understand our goal. If your child needs a device, please contact your child’s principal or call the office.  Even though the doors are not open for visitors the staff will be able to answer your question or call you back with the information.   Please continue to take precautions to stay safe.

 

Thank you.

Franklin Walker

Superintendent of Schools

 

Mr. Walker discusses the importance of the parent survey as well important steps the district has taken to

ensure a safe opening along with a remote learning component for all school stakeholders. 

However, we must be mindful that reopening schools continues to be a continually evolving plan that will likely be revised and adjusted based on public health trends and guidelines from the Governor and the New Jersey Department of Education.  Superintendent Walker's Message as of July 24, 2020.

School Reopening Plan. 

JCPS-Presentation-REOPENING PLAN-JULY 28TH

 
 

August 16, 2020

Dear Parents and Students, 

 

Despite the Covid-19 challenges, we are still very excited to start the school year 2020-2021, encouraged by your unwavering support of, and inspired by your continued trust in the Jersey City Public Schools. 

 

Our clerical and administrative staff will be returning to work within the next week to answer your specific questions and concern.  We are getting ready to begin remote teaching and learning, feed our students, and to eventually welcome your children for in-person instruction as soon as health data lowers the risks.  

 

We are hiring custodial workers and nurse aides to maintain the health and safety guidelines outlined in our reopening plan.  Our instructional staff is also participating in professional development to enhance our ability to provide an exceptional education remotely.  As learning leaders, we must practice our expectations of always being better and learning something new each day.  

 

The curriculum department is diligently developing the specifics for remote instruction that include daily face to face time between the students and their teachers during the school day.  Google Classroom will be the official online platform to hold all the assignments, and our teachers will use other platforms to enhance instruction.  

 

If you want to see the JCPS Reopening Plan, visit the district's website.  Please continue to teach your child how to wear a mask, maintain social distance, and wash their hands frequently for 20 seconds.  

 

Franklin Walker

Superintendent of Schools

July 26, 2020

Greetings Parents,

 

This is Franklin Walker calling you with the weekly update of July 26, 2020.   I ask that you complete the survey to give us additional feedback to continue planning.It is only a survey.  In late August, we will need your decision, and even then, you will be able to change as long as you give us a short time to accommodate the request.  Parents, all remote learning will be online as a combination of students and teachers online at the same time based on a set schedule and other times when students work independently using Google Classroom to complete lessons that meet the NJ Student Learning Standards.

 

During phase 2 of the reopening plan, classes will be small.  We are looking to have class sizes of 30%.   There is no specific number because class sizes depend on age and need.  In pre-k, 30% of 15 approximately is 5 students; in a self-contained class of 12, it would be about 4, and in a class of 24, it would be 8 students, provided the classroom can accommodate the capacity. 

 

Procedures in the classroom will be developmentally appropriate, and the younger students will include movement and age-appropriate activities that would allow for social distance.  We expect older students to wear their masks, but we will be mindful of the needs of younger and exceptional needs learners.  Outdoor activities would be considered as much as possible, weather permitting. 

 

We did not propose to shorten the day for PK-8th grade to allow for staggered entrance and dismissal times.  We will screen all students and staff each morning, and younger students will take longer as we may need to have a parent present.   However, it is a change that we can consider.

 

We will have masks available for children that need them. At this time, please encourage your child to wear a mask and become comfortable with the need for safety.  Make sure that you have a thermometer available to take your child’s temperature before leaving for school.  We will need to actively enforce our current 24 hours of fever free policy for the health of all at the school.

 

This coming week during the Board Meeting, I share with the community our recommendations at this time.  The Reopening Plan allows for complete remote, a combination of remote and in-person in incremental phases.  I will continue to provide you with weekly updates all summer long.

 

Thank You and stay safe. 

 

Franklin Walker

Superintendent of Schools

 

July 19, 2020

Greetings parents,

 

This is the weekly update of July 19, 2020.  The Jersey City Public Schools Reopening Plan is in the planning stages as we work through the best learning model options available for our students, staff, and families this fall.  We are engaged in reviewing and refining our remote learning plan, while also preparing for the in-person reopening of schools in the fall.

 

There are many components to a safe reopening plan for the Jersey City Public Schools.  The most important aspect of our Plan is to prioritize the health, safety, and well-being of students and staff. The information parents/guardians provided via our initial survey has been beneficial as the Reopening Committees have been discussing and planning possible learning models for the 2020-2021 school year.  Although the State's guidance core goal is for all students to return to school in the fall safely, it is evident that many members of our school community are uncertain about sending their children back to school.

 

Please know that we intend to honor your input to meet the needs of all students and the realities of each family under the allowances provided by the NJ Department of Education and Governor Murphy. The district is proceeding with an implementation plan that allows for gradual stages of in-person learning in phases.  The health and safety of students and staff are paramount, so we need an incremental and flexible approach as the guidelines and health data are subject to change.

 

The Jersey City Public Schools Reopening Plan will allow for gradual stages or phases of in-person learning based on your feedback and next week we will share how you can let us know your preferences. 

 

Thank you for your continued support as we navigate the challenges of the pandemic. 

 

Franklin Walker

Superintendent of Schools

 

July 11, 2020

Greetings Parents,

 

This is the weekly update of July 11th. Our plans to reopen the schools for some in-person continue. Based on the current information and trends, we will resume classes using a hybrid model. All the students will be in school and rotate between remote learning and in-person instruction every 5 days. Each day students are present in school will be full-day learning with limited movement around the building, social distancing, and health precautions.  Parents who wish to keep their children in remote learning during the pandemic will be able to choose. We will reach out to you in a few weeks to learn your preference. We will also survey our staff to see who may not be able to return for medical reasons.  We are also working on creating plans for cleaning, sanitizing, entrance procedures, and a long list of necessary considerations.  

In the meantime, we have Teachers on Call to help students with their summer learning packets and any other assignment they have missed. Each school has the names and times the teachers are available posted on the webpage. Please make sure your child completes their Summer Reading assignments. All the materials and books are available electronically. Visit our website at jcboe.org, and it will take you immediately to the summer assignments.  We will continue to distribute meals all summer long. Please take advantage of the opportunity and pick the meals for your children.  

We will have more information throughout the summer, and by the beginning of August, the Reopening Plan will be ready even though we know things can change in a moment's notice. 

 

Thank you,

Franklin Walker

Superintendent of Schools

 
 Message July 3, 2020

 

Greetings Parents,

 

I would like to wish you and your family a wonderful Holiday Weekend.  Even though schools are closed, we are working to prepare for September.  We are meeting and creating different plans in case things change.  Our preference would be for all students to return for in-person instruction with more cleaning and wearing a mask.  However, to maintain social distance, we may need to develop a combination of in-person and remote learning with the most vulnerable students as our priority.  We are also planning for remote learning if schools need to close due to the COVID-19 pandemic during the school year.  We will have more information throughout the summer, and by the beginning of August, the Reopening Plan will be ready even though we know things can change in a moment's notice. 

 

In the meantime, we have Teachers on Call to help students with their summer learning packets and any other assignment they have missed. Each school has the names and times the teachers are available posted on the webpage.   Please make sure your child completes their Summer Reading assignments.  All the materials and books are available electronically.  Visit our website at jcboe.org, and it will take you immediately to the summer assignments. 

 

Meals will be available throughout the summer at the original distribution sites and PS 25.  We will not be using the busses because we are concerned that meals may spoil.  Please take a look around the school and find the distribution tent or area. 

 

Due to the pandemic, the company that makes diplomas closed and some orders are pending.  Once we receive them, the schools will notify you of the schedule to pick them up.  

 

We must continue to practice social distance and wear the mask in public.   This weekend we celebrate the birth of the nation, and by working together that we can build a fair, resilient, and thriving society.

 

Happy 4th of July!

 

Franklin Walker,

Superintendent of Schools 

 June 14, 2020

 

Greetings families,

 

In small towns and big cities across the country, Americans have been marching for justice in unprecedented numbers, giving voice to the grief and anger that generations of black Americans have suffered because of institutional racism. In Jersey City, the marches were peaceful, and it speaks highly about our great city. In some instances, young people of all colors have energized the demonstrations with the knowledge that they have the power to make things better and who are exercising their First Amendment rights. Many of our students have learned some ideas about what it means to be a citizen. Let’s remember to use our power for good, to speak up for changes that make us a better society. 

 

Wednesday, June 17, 2020, is the last day of classes for the school year. However, remember learning should continue through the summer. Packets will be available at the schools until the end of June for students in kindergarten, first and second grade. The schools will let you know when you can pick them up. For students in grades 3-12, the summer learning information is available at the district’s website. The schools will let you know the specifics. Students will have digital novels to read during the summer.  Please follow the recommendations from your child’s teacher. Eligible special education students will attend a virtual extended year program.  High School students can catch up with subjects they fell behind. 

 

We all have questions about schools in September. While our focus is educating students keeping our community safe is our priority.  I am interested in your opinion, so I ask that you complete the survey that we posted on our website jcboe.org The information you provide will help us continue planning to resume classes in September. We desire to return to school as usual, with enhanced safety and cleaning procedures.  However, we must be proactive and be prepared during the pandemic to continue educating our students if and when circumstances change, as predicted to maintain the health and safety of our students and employees.

 

While we do not know what next year will look like and what it may bring, I know this… our teachers, administrators, and schools will be ready. 

 

Franklin Walker,

Superintendent of Schools 

 

 

 

May 31, 2020

 

Greetings Parents and Staff,

 

I hope you had an opportunity this weekend to enjoy the beautiful weather.  This Monday, June 1, 2020, we begin our 13th week of remote learning.  Within the next few weeks, your child's principal may be reaching out to schedule time for high school students to pick up their caps and gowns, return materials, and empty their lockers.  Students will have scheduled times for a limited number of young people to enter the building and leave with a few minutes while maintaining social distance.  If you don't want them to participate, let your child's teacher know.  Shortly, you will also learn how to return the work your child has completed.  Please follow the recommended guidelines to ensure everyone's safety and continued good health.

We will have virtual graduations in June as we actively explore options for honoring graduates in a manner that complies with the regulations for social distance, the guidance of the New Jersey Department of Education, and recommendations from the CDC.  June is a month of celebrations for schools, but the pandemic is making us rethink how we do things to keep safe and protect the most vulnerable.  

Students accepted to the accelerated programs will receive their acceptance letters this week.  

This week our nation has witnessed violence.  Please encourage your children to be critical viewers of media, including print, television, internet, video, social media, and other digital spaces. Help them analyze media portrayals of racial incidents in the news, and to think critically.  Help them imagine and make personal goals to promote a just society.  In the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere."

Thank you for your continued support and stay safe. 

 

Franklin Walker,

Superintendent of Schools

 

 

 

 

Superintendent's Weekly Message May 25, 2020

 

Good evening parents,

 

This weekend we honored our brave men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice to maintain our democracy and restore freedom.  It is also the beginning of our 12th week with remote learning since we closed for the pandemic.  

Please continue to help your children and make sure that they remain focused on learning and complete all the assignments their teachers provide.   Students will benefit from their diligence in completing projects. 

 

 

On Friday, we learned that the Family First Coronavirus Response Act would provide some monetary assistance to the families of students eligible for free and reduced meals during the school year.  We must verify your current address so that you can receive the money directly.  According to the information we received, families would receive approximately $300 per child enrolled in our schools.  Now, please go to the district website at jcboe.org and confirm your current address. Use the link for SNAP/Free and Reduced meals.  

 

 

Thank you for your continued collaboration, and together, we will prepare all students for greatness.  This past week the Board approved the revised grading policy during the pandemic, and we will share the information as soon as possible.  We are working on plans to safely and orderly close the schools for summer vacation and get ready for September.  At this time, there is no factual information about how schools should resume classes in September, but we are developing different plans in anticipation of different scenarios.   

 

 

Continue to practice care, maintain social distance, and be safe.

 

Franklin Walker,

Superintendent of Schools

 

May 10, 2020

Greeetings parents and staff,

 

 

I would like to wish mothers and all the people who step into mother others a wonderful and healthy mothers’ day.  Last week we celebrated Teacher appreciation week, and there are not enough words to acknowledge the way our teachers have embraced remote learning to maintain the connections with the students and their families.  On Friday, I received directions from the NJDOE and the Office of Emergency Management, confirming that ALL graduations must be virtual.  The directive clearly states that any variation from a virtual celebration would violate the Executive Order to remain at home.  

 

We are developing a safe and orderly plan for students and staff to remove their belongings from schools and to reimburse families the money collected for proms and another end of year events.  This week educators and parents will receive the revised grading policy during the pandemic.  It is essential that students continue to engage daily in their learning tasks and that teachers continue to maintain communications with them.  

 

This week we will have two meetings about the budget.  I plan to put more resources and educators in the classrooms to work directly with students.  Jersey City is a beautiful city with a diversity that resembles our great nation. Still, there is an opportunity gap for some of our students, and we must make every effort to help the school dependent students to succeed.  

 

Thank you, and please continue to exercise social distance, work on your assignments, and pick up breakfast, lunch, and dinner at any of the 20 locations around the city.  Please help your neighbor and pick up a meal for them if they can’t go.

 

Thank you,

 

Franklin Walker

Superintendent of Schools

 

 

August 2019

 

Dear Parents and Staff,

 

It is with great pleasure that I welcome you to the Jersey City Public Schools. I am very excited to start the 2019-2020 school year with a clear focus on doing what is best for all of our students. This has been a very busy summer overcoming obstacles and planning for results that can be sustained for years to come. Our vision is to provide exemplary leadership and service to the schools, parents and the community as we work together to prepare children with a globally competitive, comprehensive, rigorous education. The beginning of the school year, similarly to the dawning of a new day, offers endless possibilities. As we begin this school year, I wish everyone the greatest success as we welcome approximately 30,000 students and their families.

 

Building on the progress made in the past and with the support of the Board of Education, as the Superintendent, I will use the Transition Plan for Return to Local Control for the Jersey City Public Schools to guide our reform efforts. While maintaining the implementation of the initiatives that have shown success, this year we will focus on building strong academic foundations through innovative experiences, enhancing the arts, building resilience in our students through social-emotional programs, and school safety. We will be working on short and long term solutions for the students and families of the Jersey City Public Schools.  Clearly, it is a year of great ambition and promise. Nonetheless, I know we can meet all of our goals because we have a faculty and staff that believes in our students and in providing educational excellence. We have work to do, work that requires commitment, focus and collaboration but together we will make progress towards our goals.  I do not need to remind the families of how important your job is for our children in Jersey City.  The children need your wisdom and your care. My hope is that working together, the community and the school district, we can prepare our students for the careers of the future. I know the staff at the schools will attempt to challenge students with engaging lessons and proven innovative practices.

 

I look forward to a year filled with stories of great success and great learning. Welcome to the 2019-2020 school year in the Jersey City Public Schools.

 

Mr. Franklin Walker

Superintendent of Schools