Dickinson High School
Dickinson High School, Jersey City Times file photo

At the Jersey City School Board meeting this past Thursday evening, Superintendent Walker cast doubt that Jersey City’s schools would reopen before November.

“My concerns are that if we are out in September, there is a good chance we will be out in October as well,” the superintendent said. He added that if they do decide in September that the schools will reopen, it will still take weeks to put things in place:

“There is a good chance with us not going back in September it probably means we will not go back until November, if we go back. If we do not go back in November, we could be out till January. Our position is to err on the side of caution when it comes to the safety and welfare of our children.”

Superintendent Walker also spoke about scheduling and other matters.

There will be a “hybrid schedule for staff and possible furlough for others,” he noted, and class schedules would be posted on the district’s website. Teachers will take attendance at the start of each class and, as requested by parents, all schools will have “a nurse and an assistant.” The superintendent also reported that terminal pay for retirees had been approved by the board and would be released.

The meeting also featured remarks by Victor Pennetta, whose company, Pennetta Industrial Automation, has been brought in by the district to address concerns over ventilation in the schools.  Pennetta said that the board had “kept up with code” over bring fresh air into classrooms and other spaces in the schools including the older buildings over the years. He noted that each classroom has ventilation equipment that brings in the legally requisite amount of fresh air and has an exhaust system that pulls the inside air out.

“We are constantly bringing in fresh air, and we are  constantly purging classrooms,” Pannetta said. “The air goes through a filtering system before being distributed. When reducing students in the space, the ventilation will be much better, and there will be additional ventilation and exhaust. They have been going through the buddings with Facilities [the Facilities Department] making sure systems are up to snuff, and so far everything has been pretty good.”

Finally, the meeting featured discussion about when the school board should meet next. Board member Mussab Ali asked whether the next meeting, which is slated for September 24, should be moved up to give parents more notice should the district decide to reopen schools in October. Given the length of time needed to prepare for reopening and the fact that it is already late August, Superintendent said that the next meeting could indeed remain September 24.

The next virtual Jersey City School Board meeting will be held Thursday, September 24, at 6 p.m.

For past coverage of Jersey City School Board meetings, please click here.

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