8 Paterson schools to get laundry rooms to help students have clean clothing

The Paterson School District is trying out a new program in the hope of keeping down absenteeism in the city’s schools.
School officials are testing the theory that if students have clean clothes to wear to school, they are more likely to show up for class. This led school officials to install laundry rooms in eight schools in the district.
The district will be getting 10 washers and 10 dryers to install among the eight schools. Officials say that students aren't always able to get their clothes washed at home, which in turn causes them to not want to come to school.
“What we really found was parents calling me and saying, ‘My child doesn’t want to go to school because they’re being picked on because their uniform is dirty,” says Paterson Schools Superintendent Eileen Shafer.
Shafer says that as a test in 2019, washers and dryers were installed at JFK High school and students took to it. She says that some families in the city need help and that the school district is there to serve.
Things have gotten a bit worse since the COVID-19 pandemic. Some parents have lost their jobs, and the price of most products has increased. Paying to get laundry done may get pushed aside for other expenses.
“In education, our role changes daily. And if we haven’t seen that with the pandemic, then open your eyes,” Shafer says.
One school that will get the washers and dryers is STARS Academy. The staff there serves students with special needs who are ages 14-21.
Principal Dr. Natalie Hackett says that she thinks the students will take to washing their own clothes.
"It helps to bridge the gap between home and school,” she says.
STARS Academy teaches students life skills – including how to wash clothes.
Each of the eight schools will be equipped with laundry bags, detergent and folding tables. The plan is to set up the laundry rooms in all of Paterson's high schools.
These machines are being paid for with the help of pandemic grant money. After they are all installed, there is also a plan in the works to have hygiene closets for the kids.