Shafer puts off decision to reopen Paterson schools for in-person learning | Paterson Times

Shafer puts off decision to reopen Paterson schools for in-person learning


Under pressure from increasing Covid-19 cases and the teachers’ union, superintendent Eileen Shafer put off a decision to reopen in-person learning for New Jersey’s third biggest school district.

“My administration is committed to opening schools and providing a safe environment for our students and staff,” said Shafer on Wednesday night. She then recommended to the Board of Education to continue remote learning for nearly 30,000 students in the Paterson school district.

Shafer did not set an expiration date on remote learning, something she had done with her previous recommendations. She made her decision based on “data” and “science,” she told the board.

Cases in Paterson have been trending up over the past week.

Shafer said her team will conduct another assessment in late April or early May to decide whether to reopen the district’s more than 50 school buildings.

Earlier in the week, Shafer said the district will be ready to reopen schools on May 3. She said her team has been working to install air purifiers and other “layers of protection” to reopen for in-person learning.

Shafer had previously said her team would make a recommendation in mid-April whether to reopen schools, but then changed her mind and moved up the date by half a month.

“I would challenge the district to question why are we here tonight. We’re only here tonight because there was a special meeting called to fast track this. That’s why we’re here. This wasn’t supposed to be held until middle of April,” said John McEntee, Jr., president of the Paterson Education Association, the teachers’ union.

McEntee suggested Shafer tried move up her decision because she is under pressure from governor Phil Murphy’s administration. He also pointed out the elected school board should be making the decision whether to reopen school not the superintendent.

“Let me be extremely clear to the superintendent, the school board needs to make these decisions. This is no longer a state operated school district, where Trenton can make phone calls to certain people and try to influence us,” said McEntee.

McEntee and the union have argued the district’s schools are not ready to reopen for in-person learning.

Shafer, without naming McEntee or the union, claimed there was “misinformation” being disseminated about school reopening. She appeared to pick out some of the issues McEntee mentioned in his “Open letter to the Paterson community and parents on school reopening.”

McEntee said his team has been transparent and honest. He even allowed district officials to join a delegate meeting.

“So for you to say there’s misinformation, I think, couldn’t be anything more than fake news,” said McEntee addressing Shafer at the virtual meeting.

School board president Kenneth Simmons said a previous resolution approved by the Board of Education allows the superintendent to extend remote learning.

The Board of Education tabled a measure that was up for a vote to reopen schools for in-person learning.

“We want to make sure that when we return, we do it as safely as possible,” said Simmons. He said he wanted everyone – the district, the school board, and the teachers’ union – “on the same page” on reopening schools.

Paterson schools have been closed for in-person learning since March 2020.

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  • MarquinhoGaucho

    Given that (1) Paterson is the 3rd most overcrowded district in the state and that (2) Charters have sucked away most of PPS's funds they need for improvement like a the giant cancerous mutant leech they are. (3) The new Brazilian variant ( I am sorry for that , that was Bolsonaro's fault) causing a big upswing all around, here, France, and Brazil has been topping 3,000 deaths a day. I do not see how safely Paterson can return to in person learning. I understand that the schools have daily 50-75% absence rates and that number is failing . Do not be surprised when the district does their "Dança dos professores" and transfer massive amounts of teachers around to different schools so the corrupt administrators can change the Fs to Cs like they did when Evans was there.

    • HankMorgan

      If your estimate of average daily attendance rate (50-75%) is accurate Paterson school children are in real danger. Test scores and achievement outcomes will suffer for years for this entire generation of students.
      The other result will be the district punishing teachers who have only tried to do their best under impossible circumstances. Yes. Transfers will abound. Failing observations and reviews will follow. Thus, administrators will be given the opportunity to get rid of teachers who aren’t connected, have differing opinions, or who just plain not liked. They’ll then fill the void with nepotistic and political appointees.


        It doesn't matter. Most of the students will never amount to anything anyway. We will always need laborers and warehouse workers. Well run Republican school districts will supply the leaders of tomorrow. The ghetto shitholes will supply the plantation DNC Communist voters who vote for free shit paid for by Republicans. Que cera cera


      The union wins again lmfao. Dues continue to be paid, lazy teachers get full time pay for doing nothing, and the kids continue to be illiterate. Great job guys!

      • MarquinhoGaucho

        Charters (which corrupt democrats love) out perform for the same reason St Joseph and Don Bosco Prep out perform at football, they can recruit who they like…No special Ed, no ELLs , If kids underperform they dump them back in PPS after October when budgets are set so they keep they money in a scam called "attrition". They also cook the books, turn Cs into As , let perverts like Manny martinez and crooks like McNair work, Paterson has plenty of smart kids who work hard and move on to become successful. One just a full scholarship to Yale. As for the "lazy teacher" case again look up "tenure reform bill" no teacher can get away with being lazy, you can get fired for slacking. FYI Lots of democratic towns have great education, come to Montclair where I do a lot of work. As for the anti-union rhetoric guess which states are LAST In education all the GOP ones, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Arkansas, Missouri etc etc etc. The GOP loves stupid people like you, who use fear mongering in order to support their agenda for the rich….