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Ridgewood Education Association Wants Postponement of In Person Learning for Ridgewood Schools

the staff of the Ridgewood blog
Ridgewood NJ, on August 20, 2020 the REA  posted a letter on Facebook asking for the postponement of in  person learning for Ridgewood Schools due to various health related concerns:
Dear Members of the Ridgewood Board of Education,
On behalf of the 569 members of the Ridgewood Education Association (REA) I am writing to ask you to postpone in-person reopening of the Ridgewood Public Schools. The REA believes that it is unsafe at this time to open our school buildings and we ask that the school year begin in an all virtual format. In doing so we add our voice to that of the New Jersey Association of School Administrators, the New Jersey Principals and Supervisors Association, the New Jersey State School Nurses Association, the New Jersey Education Association, and the Bergen County Education Association who have all called for a remote start to the school year. We wish this was not the case as no one wants to be back teaching in person more than the District’s teachers. We are also well aware of the hardship this may pose to parents, we are parents too. But the health and safety of staff, students, and the community at large must take precedence and right now the risk is simply too great.
Covid-19 is an airborne virus placing a greater importance on our aging buildings’ HVAC systems. We do not believe all of our buildings have adequate ventilation and the District’s 49 page plan submitted to the State contains only two paragraphs on the subject (RPS, Reopening & Operations Plan 2020-21, p.31). According to Executive Order 175 districts that cannot provide a plan for adequate ventilation may opt to begin the year remotely.

Here is what we do know about our buildings’ ventilation systems. Our classrooms receive fresh air from the outside via a univent. Our concern with these univents is that as recently as February the Board of Education stated their replacement was a “high priority need” and as such was included in the District’s $59 million bond referendum proposal (RBOE Public Meeting 2/10/20). Last December we were told that many of our schools’ univents needed to be completely refurbished and that many of our buildings’ mechanical systems were past their useful life (RBOE Public Meeting 12/16/19). Our univents are so old that they can not use a filter higher than a MERV 8. According to the Centers for Disease Control only MERV filters rated 13 or higher can help prevent the spread of Covid-19 (“Guidance for Building Operations During the Covid-19 Pandemic” ASHRAE Journal May 2020, p.73). Fresh air is the best ventilation against the spread of Covid-19 but the referendum proposal also listed classroom windows as another “high priority need” stating that many are inoperable (RBOE Public Meeting 2/10/20). In addition, according to State law windows that do work can only be opened six inches.
Under the New Jersey Department of Education’s (NJDOE) “The Road Back: Recovery and Restart Plan for Education” the district was to create Pandemic Response Teams. One of the tasks of this committee is “developing and implementing procedures to foster and maintain safe and supportive school climates as necessitated by the challenges posted by COVID-19” (NJDOE, The Road Back, p.48). While the REA has representation on each buildings’ Pandemic Response Team this representation has been in name only as some buildings have not held meetings of their teams. REA leadership has no representation on the District level Pandemic Response Team. This has resulted in teachers having no voice in the creation of policies and protocols that directly impact our health and safety.
Currently under Executive Order 173 Governor Murphy has placed a limit of no more than 25 people for an indoor gathering. Yet we learn that the High School is considering assigning over 90 students plus additional staff members to the school’s Cafeteria during academic periods.
Another area of concern is that we are now less than two weeks until the start of the school year and the District has not received the plexiglass protective barriers it has ordered. These barriers are critical for the protection of our secretarial staff as they interact with staff and students in offices where social distancing may not be possible.
We know our staff can get sick, we saw it last spring. We know our students can get sick because we saw that too last spring. We shudder at what might have been if our schools had been open to in-person teaching last spring. There are aspects of this virus that we still don’t understand, least of which is the lasting health impact on our students and of particular concern is Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome (MIS-C) in elementary aged children.
We are aware of the burden virtual instruction puts on our students and their parents – it is an added burden for us as well as we will need to reinvent what we do. Last Spring staff had a weekend to prepare for virtual instruction, but if this decision to open virtually is made now it will provide staff and parents with crucial time to prepare. We also understand the desire to have students in school for socialization with their peers and to connect with their teachers. We agree on this importance, but under current protocols there will be little student socialization in our schools. Due to social distancing students will be 6 feet apart in desks all facing the same direction. There will be no in-person collaborative work. Students
will be in masks and teachers will be masked with face shields. There can be no celebratory high fives and no comforting hugs. Our smiles will be hidden by masks.
The members of the REA have made it clear that they want to teach in-person this year. In fact the percentage of teachers seeking an accommodation to their teaching conditions is less than half the percentage of students who have requested all virtual instruction. Because we are willing and ready to work, we want to be certain that our school buildings are safe. We thank the administration for their work to do so, but it is our determination that the District needs more time. As a result we urge you to convene a meeting of the Board before August 31 and make the determination to open the school year in an all virtual fashion. It is the only way that the health and safety of staff and students can be assured.
Michael Yannone
President, Ridgewood Education Association


15 thoughts on “Ridgewood Education Association Wants Postponement of In Person Learning for Ridgewood Schools

  1. Virtual instruction is really make believe instruction.

  2. Translation: “Pay us our full salaries – and keep paying our medical bills with our almost free platinum health insurance – but let us keep winging it in our pajamas at home!”

    P.S. honey, don’t forget to pick up our $5 copay Viagra 😉

  3. Fire them all. Go union free in Ridgewood school district!

  4. And yet…you continue to live in Ridgewood with a school budget of over 100mm per year. Why is that?
    From where I stand the public education industrial complex is nothing but graft the produces a very poor product that year after year you continue to pay for. You just can’t fix stupid.

  5. If that “Biden” is so sure he would be better then Trump on the China-virus than why hasnt he made it go away ,, the liberal’s do not want to talk about this

  6. The liberals have their head up their ass simple as that. Opening up the school has nothing to do with the president. They are mandated by the state board of health. Unless there’s a rapid Amount of people getting sick across the United States then they could shut everything down. Right now we are in a state of emergency in New Jersey at least till the end of September and we have to go from there. If we homeschool our children do we get a tax break reimbursement.

  7. For the Kids!

  8. 400+ new infections at U of Alabama on Friday……

  9. OMG 400+ DEATHS at U of Alabama !!!

    This Truly IS a killer pandemic!!!

  10. The REA is led by a bunch of clowns. Teachers need to show up to work and do their jobs like the rest of the general population. Anyone that doesn’t like it is free to resign….

  11. U of Alabama:
    Total COVID Infections – ALL Campuses, Current Semester (everyone tested): 1063
    Infection rate: 2.8%
    Reaction in Ridgewood:
    It’s a DISASTER!!


  12. Isn’t NJ doing better than Alabama on transmission rates?

  13. Covid-19 is NOT a lethal virus, that is a fact. Lethal viruses do not spread, as they kill their victim, which stops the spread. People are not dying from covid19, they are dying from the one or more, known or unknown underlying diseases they have. It is a fact that children are not dying from covid19. It is okay for them to get the virus. They will not melt. If teachers are afraid to get the virus, for a valid or invalid reason, then they should be given these options:. Resign, retire early, take a leave of absence, go on unemployment or wear a hazmat suit. The teachers can easily be temporarily replaced by young, unemployed certified teacher, which are many, or college graduates. Why do so many teachers make everything about them, rather than about the children? The only reason teachers have their job is because of
    the students. Students should always come first. Students need to be in school in person. Virtual school is not the same and is not what our taxes pay for. Lastly, how are young children supposed to do virtual learning at home, when both parents have to go out to work? Most parents are NOT teachers, who have the luxury of staying home just because they are in a strong union, that controls the politrickers. Many teachers are not living in the real world and need to be made to realize that the world does NOT revolve around them.

  14. Exactly!

    The CDC also talks about the importance of returning to school this fall on behavioral health, physical health and social development, not to mention what’s happening to children with disabilities or who don’t have supervision at home.

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