NJ school districts wanted to reopen but teacher shortages change plans
School districts starting the academic year with some form of in-person instruction are facing a shortage of teachers that could force them completely online.
The Lakewood Education Association, facing the prospect of a five-day week in classrooms, posted two teacher resignation letters on their Facebook page.
One Lakewood Middle School teacher, whose name was not revealed, wrote that plans to be a "lifer" in the district changed because of Lakewood's plan.
"It was apparent that the decisions made did not have everyone's best interest at heart. The schools are crowded. The rooms are small. There are very little precautions in place. It is inevitable that not only teachers but also students' family members will get sick. This is a plan that I cannot get behind," the teacher wrote.
A second Lakewood Middle School teacher, who was not identified, wrote that they could not risk potential COVID-19 exposure their four-month-old daughter.
"I feel that the safest place for her is at home with me rather than a daycare center. I also feel that the safest place for myself is home, to reduce her exposure odds," adding that if a remote start were an option they would still be a teacher.
Union spokeswoman Dawn Hiltner told New Jersey 101.5 on Wednesday morning she was not aware of any additional resignations.
The union is also asking members to contact Ocean County Executive Superintendent Kevin Ahearn, who signed off on Lakewood's plan to get the him to reverse course via The Action Network.
"Lakewood’s plan will put too many lives in danger. His acceptance of this plan makes him complicit," according to their Action Network post.
A teacher shortage has forced the Governor Livingston High School in the Berkeley Heights school district to start the school year virtually after 17 of 90 teachers submitted requests for leaves of absence.
“While our buildings were deemed safe, and our plan was approved, we need teachers to be in our buildings to operate under our Plan B approach,” schools Superintendent Melissa Varley wrote in a letter to parents.
The Ocean Township school district in Monmouth County switched to a virtual start to the school year to allow for more substitute teachers to be hired after 31 staff members requested leaves of absence.
At least 30 members of the Wayne Teachers Union have applied to work from home after the school board approved a hybrid start to the school year, union president Eda Ferrante told the Wayne Board of Education at Monday's meeting, according to NorthJersey.com.
Contact reporter Dan Alexander at Dan.Alexander@townsquaremedia.com or via Twitter @DanAlexanderNJ