Paterson teachers will get the chance to inspect schools for COVID-19 safety before returning to classroom
Paterson teachers are getting their way when it comes to checking COVID-19 safety at the city’s schools.
A decision from the Public Employees Relations Commission says it will give the teacher’s union a chance to inspect buildings before classes resume next month.
Backed by this order, teachers in Paterson will be allowed to get inside and inspect schools as soon as next week. It is a win for the teachers – one that hopefully won’t keep students out of the classroom much longer.
The students have not been in the classroom for the past 14 months. A few hundred are supposed to end their virtual learning days on June 8, but the teachers will first get the chance to inspect the schools’ ventilation systems and other defects in 17 schools.
The teacher's union president took a shot at Superintendent Eileen Schafer, who initially declined the inspection request.
"While it's understandable the Board made this decision in the wake of Superintendent Shafer's inaccurate portrayal of district readiness, they have been sold a bill of goods,” the union president said in a statement. "For months, Ms. Shafer has tried to make light of the remediation issues that our district still faces and continues to promise everything will be in order by the end of the month."
There are three schools in particular that have been called out for problems – East Side High School, Martin Luther King School and JFK High School.
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Paterson teachers have been against returning to the classroom this year and have been pushing to wait for the fall. President Joe Biden and Gov. Phil Murphy have been pushing for schools to return to the classroom as soon as possible.
East Side High School student Bryan Fernandez says that he is looking forward to ending virtual learning.
“It’s easier to learn, like you can understand more things in class than remote,” he says.
Some parents tell News 12 New Jersey that they are still worried about their children returning to school and potentially being exposed to the virus.
A spokesperson for the superintendent’s office declined to comment on the situation, citing the ongoing litigation.
As part of the ruling, no one will be allowed to work inside of the buildings until the inspections are complete. About 900 students are expected to return to class June 8.