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PROTECT VULNERABLE STUDENTS IN SCHOOL REOPENING

August 24, 2020

Our Children/Our Schools (OC/OS), a broad-based network of New Jersey education, children’s rights and civil rights organizations, today released a statement focusing on the needs of the state’s most vulnerable students as they return to school, whether in-person or by remote instruction or a combination of both.

The OC/OS statement underscores the paramount concern for the health and safety of all students, families and school staff during the COVID-19 pandemic. OC/OS further explains that students from low-income families, English language learners, students receiving special education and children in unsafe or disruptive living situations will require additional supports during this challenging time.

OC/OS recommends several steps the State of New Jersey must take to close the digital divide, provide safe spaces for students beyond the classroom, and prioritize vulnerable children when bringing students back to school.

The statement notes that, while making sure every student has a computer at home for remote learning, it’s just as important to ensure that families have stable, reliable access to the internet. OC/OS recommends treating internet access as a public utility, with universal access for all students, without regard to the ability of families to pay for the service.

OC/OS recommendations for student safety include working with school districts and communities to identify locations that can provide supervision and internet access for students while maintaining social distancing. And when school buildings are determined to be safe enough for students and staff to return, children who need and would benefit most from in-person instruction should be invited back first.

The OC/OS statement implores the State to “maintain a laser-like focus on protecting the most vulnerable students and families” throughout the coming school year.

The OC/OS network was established over a decade ago and is facilitated by Education Law Center. More information about OC/OS, including a list of members and friends, is available here.

 

Press Contact:

Sharon Krengel
Policy and Outreach Director
skrengel@edlawcenter.org
973-624-1815, x 24