New Jersey's 1st Legislative District

Senator Michael Testa

District 1

Testa, Simonsen & McClellan: Time to Get Kids Back In the Classroom

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Too Many Students Falling Behind Under Remote Learning

As signs seem to suggest the State will be contending with the COVID pandemic well into the summer, the District 1 legislative team of Senator Michael Testa, Assemblyman Erik Simonsen, and Assemblyman Antwan McClellan today chided the Governor for delays in vaccinating teachers and getting students back to school.

As signs seem to suggest the State will be contending with the COVID pandemic well into the summer, the District 1 legislative team of Sen. Michael Testa, Asm. Erik Simonsen, and Asm. Antwan McClellan today chided the Governor for delays in vaccinating teachers and getting students back to school. (Pixabay)

“It is high time for our students and teachers to go back to the classroom,” said Senator Michael Testa. “Our children fall further behind with every day they are out of school, and for special needs students, the impact is that much more severe. Remote learning in this environment is anything but ideal, and for many students who need the daily reinforcement and encouragement of in-person instruction, the lost time can be educationally devastating.”

The legislators stated the sluggish implementation of the vaccination program in New Jersey has hindered school districts’ efforts to return to face-to-face instruction.

“If the Administration had done a better job rolling out the shots and prioritized teachers, we would be seeing more schools returning to normal,” said Testa. “Vaccination centers continue to be plagued with problems that are slowing the process, and when the Governor had a chance to prioritize teachers, he instead moved smokers to the front of the line. Our children are the ones paying the price for this confusing leadership.”

In January, the legislators wrote to Governor Murphy, asking for teachers to be “offered the next eligibility” for vaccines once new doses are secured and senior citizens have had the opportunity to receive shots.

“The pandemic continues to wreak havoc on the economy and the education system,” said Assemblyman Simonsen. “We have heard too many stories of students who are unable to keep pace with remote instruction. They lack adequate technology and quality internet access, and for these youngsters, in-school education is a necessity. They are particularly vulnerable, and their futures depend on it,” the former special education teacher said.

Simonsen is now athletic director at Lower Cape May Regional High School. The school is lined up to serve as a vaccination site as the state acquires more doses and expands eligibility.

“Without dedicated, hardworking teachers fully engaged in their classrooms, children will continue to suffer and fall further behind,” said Assemblyman McClellan, a former member of the Ocean City board of education. “These students are our most precious assets. The botched vaccine rollout is interfering with the nurturing in-person education their developing minds require. Teachers in the classroom are essential.”

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