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Eighty-five percent of parents whose children attend elementary schools in Verona Public Schools (Essex County) want schools to reopen for live instruction. And, frustrated with the district’s insistence on maintaining a hybrid plan that has students in school two half-days per week, parents will hold a protest rally on Friday.
“It’s not really about the adults, it’s about the children,” said Kristen Donohue, who has children in 5th, 7th and 8th grades. “For mental and emotional health — and also just academically — my children have said that it’s harder to get up in the morning and get out, but they learn better when they’re in school.”
Back in November, the district created a committee of parents and teachers to discuss school schedules. Donahue sits on this committee where parents have suggested using gyms as classrooms to get more kids in school, using the WHO guidelines instead of the CDC guidelines for social-distancing (3 feet vs. 6 feet), and setting up tents for outdoor instruction. She told the Star-Ledger, “A lot of these ideas that we put forth are often met with ‘no’ right out of the gate.”
In a recent letter to parents, Superintendent Rui Dionisio wrote,”I want all students to safely return to a full day, every day, in-person school by September of 2021” but has yet to receive guidance from the state. The largest roadblock is maintaining 6 feet of space between students.
In this op-ed in today’s USA Today, four pediatricians and epidemiologists argue that “no science supports mandating 6 feet of distance with children wearing masks. A 6 foot distance between students creates space constraints for schools to open in entirety. There is data supporting at least 3 foot distancing.”