This is a letter (lightly edited) to Gov. Phil Murphy, written by Shanna Givens of Jersey City, who has an autoimmune disease. She pleads with the Governor to permit a virtual learning option for families like hers. Currently New Jersey is one of 16 states that does not permit parents to choose a remote instruction option while COVID-19 rates remain high. Givens is a member of the group New Jersey Parents for Virtual Choice.
Dear Gov. Murphy:
I am writing to express my concern for the families of New Jersey who are put in a situation that is dangerous.
You insist on continuing the mandate that all children must be present this school year for in-person learning. Although I believe in-person learning is needed for the students to engage more with their teachers and to be more social with other students, during this time with the Delta variant it is not safe for those who have serious illnesses or disabilities.
We have to think about the children and their families who are elderly or have a weak immune system. I myself have an autoimmune disorder. When I catch a regular cold, my body shuts down; being infected with Covid-19 could be worse on my body than those without suppressed immune systems.
Governor Murphy, do you not understand that the schools in the Jersey City District are not equipped to protect our children when you have full in-person classes?
How can you say my child is safe when:
- There are 31 kids in a class
- Kids are so hot they are sweating
- Classroom lack adequate ventilation
- Buildings are in constant need of repairs
- There is no enforced hand washing
- Teachers are forced to take control of an issue they have no control over
- 6th, 7th and 8th graders are switching classes with hundreds of kids changing classes on one floor
- Classroooms are over-crowded, which can not be a good learning environment for anyone, but during a pandemic is inhumane and wrong on all levels
- Not all families are being cautious or teaching their children to be safe.
- Parents are home-schooling with no clue on how to do so or just keeping their children home with no curriculum due to concerns about contagion.
If these facts do not move you, how about the fact that there is a teacher shortage, some areas do not have bus drivers, some of the buildings are so old you can not add air conditioners to all classrooms, plumbing issues abound? How about the stress to superintendents and administrators in all of the schools who have to put contingency plans together in case of an outbreak? Do not forget that in the urban areas like Jersey City there is violence daily and so the focus of education has been lost in the Covid struggle.
This has to stop.
Governor Murphy, you need to know this is wrong. You must give parents who have kids with disabilities a choice, give parents with immunosuppressed illnesses a choice, and let people make decisions based on their individual family circumstances.
Mandatory in-person schooling for all students is not a good choice at this time.
New Jersey Parents for Virtual Choice is a group of parents who have children with disabilities, have family members in the home with weak immune disorders, or feel their anxiety is so stressful that they are not able to work or function on a daily basis.
Please hear us when we say, “we are so scared and it is causing stress on our already stressful lives.” You need to be more compassionate towards those who want an education for their children, safely.