‘The fear was through the roof’: Newark School District starting the year virtually

Newark, New Jersey's largest school district, is the latest to announce that it is starting the year virtually when public schools reopen Sept. 8. It will stay that way through at least the district's first marking period.
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While the city's public schools made their announcement Monday, the charter schools decided to go virtual a few weeks ago. Both charter and public school officials say the health and safety of their students, teachers and staff was the top priority and that there was a lot of concern after seeing failed reopenings in other parts of the country.
“The morale was in the basement,” says John Abeigo, president of the Newark Teachers’ Union. “The fear was through the roof. Under those circumstances, you can't reopen a building successfully, especially a school building which is supposed to be a happy place and a learning place. If everyone is apprehensive, there won't be a lot of learning going on.”
Charter and public schools have given all students chrome books and both have offered online workshops for teachers about remote teaching.
“While I do think about families who have to send kids to the school because they work, when you think about the children, families, and staff, safety matters most and I do think it's the right decision,” says Veronica Avery, principal at KIPP TEAM Academy.
The decision for public schools comes somewhat abruptly, after the district previously announced plans for a choice between full in-person learning or a hybrid of in-person and virtual learning.