NJ school district votes to go entirely remote after 375 teachers say they won't return

Maya Rajamani
August 11, 2020 - 1:32 pm

ELIZABETH, N.J. (1010 WINS) -- One New Jersey school district says it can’t start off the school year with in-person classes, as 375 of its teachers are unable to return to classrooms for health-related reasons, according to a report. 

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The Elizabeth School District on Monday voted to keep its school buildings closed and hold all-remote classes in the fall, with a spokesperson calling holding in-person classes without hundreds of teachers a “mathematical impossibility,” NJ.com reported.

The vote came despite the fact that the state has said public schools must offer some in-person learning options this fall. The state’s Department of Education must sign off on the district’s plan. 

“As of Monday, 375 teachers have notified the district that they cannot report to work inside a school building in September due to health-related issues,” Elizabeth School District spokesperson Pat Politano told the outlet. 

“There would be insufficient staff to open safely in person with that many teachers unavailable for in-person instruction,” Politano added. 

On Monday, Gov. Phil Murphy said the state was taking “all the inputs from all the stakeholders very seriously, and there’s, as I’ve said before, enormous passion on all sides of this,” the outlet reported. 

Elizabeth Education Association President John Griffin told the outlet all of the teachers who said they couldn’t return to classrooms for health reasons submitted doctors’ notes and other medical documentation. 

“They are scared,” he told the outlet. “(And) I don’t think you’ll be able to find substitutes at all.”