To close, or not to close — that is the question facing school districts in the state after the New Jersey Education Association canceled its conference set for Wednesday and Thursday in Atlantic City.
Some schools jumped at the opportunity to make up days lost due to Hurricane Sandy. Northfield’s school board met Friday to adjust the calendar.
“It’s a gift,” said Superintendent Janice Fipp, whose district opened late in September because of mold removal. “I still need two more days.”
Northfield parents were told to notify their school principal if they had previously planned vacations. Many shore-area families who work through the summer take vacations during the NJEA Convention.
Not all districts have made a decision or even reopened since the storm. Atlantic City, Brigantine, Margate and Ocean City were closed all week but are expected to open Monday.
The Ocean City Board of Education has scheduled a special meeting at 8 a.m. Monday at the high school to discuss staying open Thursday and Friday.
Long Beach Island, Stafford Township and Ventnor had already scheduled to be off all next week. Ventnor posted a notice on its website saying the schedule might change if Gov. Chris Christie orders schools to open.
Christie on Thursday urged schools to stay open, saying at a news conference in Trenton that he prefers not to have to invoke emergency powers and order teachers back to class, but “would not hesitate to do what needed to be done to help our children get the education they need.”
But state school board officials said there must be some flexibility statewide since not all schools have power yet, or have storm damage, and might need the extra days to clean up.
Galloway Township schools will remain closed. Superintendent Annette Giaquinto posted a statement on the district website after receiving an email from a parent asking why the district would not take advantage of the extra days to hold school.
The memo said she agreed that children need to return to school and pushed to open Thursday. But, she said, after reviewing the logistics of opening Thursday and Friday, she opted to stay closed.
Vineland, Hamilton Township and Greater Egg Harbor Regional will also remain closed. Hamilton will take the three makeup days off the spring break.
Buena Regional and Pleasantville remained closed all this week because they hosted Red Cross evacuation sites at their schools. Buena Regional will open with a half-day schedule Thursday and Friday. Pleasantville will also remain open and will have school on Election Day as well.
“The district was glad to be able to help,” Pleasantville Superintendent Garnell Bailey said. “But now we are back in session, and we will be open all week.”
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