Coronavirus (Covid-19) Information-Health Update
Superintendent Franklin Walker's message about the 2020-2021 Budget
The Budget we built and the Board approved addresses the well-documented needs of our students. Still, today it is even more meaningful that we plan a full range of educational services for our very diverse student population from preschool through the 12th grade.
We have smart students, curious children, dynamic students, and families that are school dependent, and children impacted by ills of poverty similarly to urban settings across the nation.
70% rate of free and reduced lunches
14% are English Language Learners
13.6% are Students with Disability
The COVID-19 virus is ruthlessly contagious and, based on the information the scientific community has shared, highly selective. Its capacity to infect is universal, but the consequences of becoming infected are not. While there are exceptions, children are less likely to show symptoms, older adults, and those with pre-existing medical conditions are the most susceptible. Communities of color in the United States are experiencing dramatically higher rates of hospitalization and death.
Nobody can predict the extent to which the coronavirus pandemic will affect the students of the Jersey City Public Schools long-term, but schools we need to start planning for this right now because the gap will widen. Our gifted students will not be able to achieve at their usual level, and our historically underachieving groups will fall further behind. Parents and guardians became teachers overnight, and they are trying to balance their professional responsibilities while helping and caring for their children. At the same time, we have older students completing classroom assignments while caring for younger children as their parents work as essential employees.
We must build capacity at all levels of the organization and ensure great talent in every school and department.
A strong focus on curriculum and instruction through enrichment, acceleration, resources, and support to master the New Jersey Student Learning Standards. The JCPS is an Urban District where some schools with high poverty rates; nonetheless, we are determined to find ways to mitigate the impact through multi-tiered interventions and support to decrease social exclusion and the chronic stress for families and children. We have very talented teachers, but it takes more than one person, we need highly trained individuals working together to support our students.
Imagine that every school could receive additional staff who could work as tutors and focus on students who had fallen furthest behind. Or social workers that would work with students to cope with anxiety and stress, and build relationships with families to help with attendance, social-emotional development, and mental health. The students deserve that we have more teachers in the classroom, replace vacancies, and provide the resources necessary to help our students.
Our facilities need constant repairs. We have old buildings:
- 13 more than 100 years old
- 15 more than 80 years old
- 9 more than 50 years old
- 7 Less than 50 years old
- And 2 recently built schools but PS 26 just had significant water damage from a leak
We must strengthen our STEM curriculum at ALL the schools. Research released last week shows that “STEM fields are missing out on too many talented Hispanic students because of a lack of confidence and preparation — not a lack of aspiration or potential.”
African American and Hispanic students are just as interested in STEM careers as their white and Asian peers but remain underrepresented in STEM occupations. Combined, that is 75% our student body.
In September, I used the analogy that we needed to move from the “horse and buggy” way of doing things to state of the art “Tesla.” Well, I did not know then how true this would be this school year. We have distributed devices to the students in grades 3-12 who told us they did not have access to online learning, but in many instances, students are sharing devices at home. Now schools will remain closed for the remainder of the school year, but we do not have enough working devices to provide the students in kindergarten, first and second grade. Remote learning will be a reality of the future as we deal with Pandemic worldwide.
70% of our student body receives free and reduced meals, these students are less likely to have technology at home, and who are more often already having difficulties in school. We need to prepare to have a device for every student in September and to keep computers in school to use for the mandated assessments.
Schools across the country are scrambling to prop up students emotionally and mentally during this frightening, uncertain times as their ability to respond is greatly diminished.
Even before the coronavirus pandemic hit, many of our students experience anxiety and depression that manifest with suicide ideation, or lack of self-control, or lack of social skills.
We can blame social media, fear of school shootings, students in foster care, the disparities of race, and intolerances around gender identity. However, we need to be ready to support our students from day 1.
There are no magic bullets that we can use across all settings. Nonetheless, we have the responsibility to make sound decisions to fund our schools to educate our children for greatness properly.
Today we stand amid a world crisis; those of us who can dream must dream. I dream that next school year, we can meet the health, academic, and social-emotional needs of all our students. But, I demand that we act together in ways that meet the needs of the children we educate.
May 3, 2020
As we start our eighth week of remote learning, I again offer my gratitude for students, staff, and a community committed to health, wellbeing, and education. I continue to be impressed by the Jersey City spirit even though I did not expect any less. As we await the Governor's announcement that New Jersey will reopen, it will be essential to continue to be patient. The same is true for the time when our schools open.
Next week we will share specific information about how we will grade students during remote learning. Please know our priority is to help all students find meaningful learning while not penalizing students with limited resources. Some students may receive an incomplete and may be required to complete additional assignments during the summer or into September to make sure they are ready to succeed at the next grade level. Students excelling with remote learning will be acknowledged.
It is now apparent that several traditional events and ceremonies do not meet the new norm of social distancing. For example, we will not be able to give the AEP exam, but next week we will share the revised criteria with all the students who applied to take the admission exam.
I have asked principals and teachers to brainstorm virtual options for graduations and moving on ceremonies. Each school will design a program that is feasible and meets safety standards during the Pandemic. We are also developing a safe way to collect the completed Instructional Packets that allows for your safety and the safety or our staff.
If your child is experiencing difficulty with remote learning or a device we loaned you, visit our website under Quick links and go to the Report a Concern link or email your teacher or principal and they will notify our helpdesk. I try to send you a message every week, and I will continue this practice as long as the schools remain closed for the Pandemic. Thank you for your continued support and remember to follow all the recommendations of the Health Department.
On Wednesday, May 6, 2020, the Board of Education will be holding a public meeting on the 2020-2021 school budget. This will be the last phase of the budget, prior to its adoption on May 14, 2020. It will be the Best opportunity for you to be heard. The Board has approved this budget. The County Superintendent and the NJ Department of Education have approved this budget. Now, we need your voice, the public to approve it. Passage of this budget will allow us to provide our children with a thorough and efficient education, just like the constitution promises. In other words, put highly qualified teachers in the classrooms, with full resources and supports, that will make our children academically competitive across the globe.
April 15, 2020
Dear Parents and Community Members:
As you know, the Jersey City Public Schools have been closed over the past several weeks to help prevent the further spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) in our community. Governor Murphy ordered an extension to the school closures in our state. The current plan is to keep schools as long as Executive Order 107 applies.
The closures will continue to affect all Jersey City Public School programming, including all athletic and extracurricular practices, competitions, and all weekend events. Our teachers and staff are still hard at work to continue to provide electronic learning to students in grades 3-12 as long as the schools remain closed. If your child in grades 3-12 does not have a device to access online education, please contact your child’s building principal or teacher to identify that your child needs a loaner. We will begin loaning instruments Tuesday, April 21, 2020, weather permitting. All students will receive a date, time, and location to pick up a device to maintain acceptable social distance and make sure everyone remains healthy. Parents and guardians will need to bring a completed loaner agreement and a bag to transport the Chromebook. We will distribute instructional packets for kindergarten, first and second-grade students at each meal distribution site between 9:00 and 12:00 noon beginning Tuesday, April 21, 2020.
The pandemic has been an incredibly challenging time for the Jersey City Public Schools District and our community. I want to thank you for your patience and understanding as we have dealt with this unprecedented situation. We will continue to keep you updated via email, text, social media,and our website at https://www.jcboe.org/ in the Quick Links section for the COVID 19 updates.
May you and your family continue to remain well.
For the most current information please visit:
Executive Order 117 from Governor Murphy
COVID-19 Quick Facts
How to take your temperature