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Sweeney, Ruiz, Thompson to Form Education Taskforce to Address Challenges to Schools, Students & Families Brought to Light by Coronavirus

Trenton – Senate President Steve Sweeney, Senate Education Chair Senator M. Teresa Ruiz and Senator Sam Thompson announced the formation of a special taskforce today to help address the upheaval to education in New Jersey caused by the coronavirus crisis.
The panel of educators and public officials will help provide guidance and insight to meet the wide array of immediate and future challenges confronting teachers, school officials, students and parents forced to contend with the ongoing health crisis. The taskforce will be led by Senator Ruiz and Senator Thompson.
“The coronavirus crisis is having an impact on all aspects of our lives, including our schools, educators, students and their families,” said Senator Sweeney. “We need to do all we can to protect the health and safety of students, teachers and staff at the same time we work to provide a quality education. There are a wide array of challenges that confront us now and there will be other consequences that will likely emerge in the near future.”
“During this unprecedented crisis, we cannot wait to address how to best serve students and families during such a disruption. We must act now to ensure that the supports – academic, social emotional and technological – are in place to allow all students and families to emerge from this crisis as best they can,” said Senator Ruiz. “While we explore how to better equip our educators to teach remotely and connect all our families to the technology, equipment and internet they need, we must also recognize this is not an ideal learning environment for any child. We know that there will be learning loss and it is important we have plans in place to provide remediation for children who may need it. I am forever grateful for all of the work that our districts, administrators, teachers and support staff have done as they continue to go above and beyond to serve our students.”
“Our school districts and teachers have done an amazing job trying to adapt quickly to remote learning in response to school closures necessitated by the emergent coronavirus crisis,” said Senator Thompson. “The miraculous rapid transition to at-home education is the result of lots of hard work from our dedicated New Jersey educators and the support of our students’ families. Individual districts, classes, and families have discovered what works and what doesn’t over the last few weeks, and they’ve also identified gaps in resources and support that need to be filled. Our taskforce will help us to bring all of this information together to improve our remote learning capabilities statewide. We certainly hope our students can return to their classrooms quickly, but we must prepare for the possibility that this crisis will be prolonged or repeated at some point in the future.”
The taskforce will help address immediate issues and work to connect students, parents and teachers with the resources they need for successful distance learning. They will also explore ways to update the current education system to allow for a seamless transition to remote education in future emergencies.