While hundreds New Jersey schools will be starting the 2020-21 academic year with remote learning, Pope John XXIII Regional High School was not one of them.
In-person classes are set to begin at the Roman Catholic high school in Sparta next week. One of the school's senior students is hoping to change that.
More than 490 signatures as of Tuesday afternoon had been garnered on the Change.org petition launched by Maddox Maiello.
“Pope John’s ignorance should not be dangerous for those who attend,” Maiello writes. “One hundred percent capacity isn’t a smart decision, and it’s scary for both students and families for them to make this decision.”
Pope John XXIII Regional High School will open Wednesday for students in 10th, 11th and 12th grade. Eighth- and ninth-graders will begin Sept. 2 with several health standards set.
Meanwhile, Pope John XXIII Middle School and Reverend George A. Brown Memorial School students will have in-school classes starting September 1.
“As an alumni of Pope John as well as a Type One Diabetic I am in FULL support of this petition. It is unfair to ask students as well as their families to chose between their health and education,” writes Katie Yarussi of Bernardsville.
Parents of current students also say they’re not ready to send their children back to school full-time.
“Need virtual learning as an option for parents not comfortable sending their kids in full time 100 percent,” writes Audette Williams of Lafayette.
Maiello adds that he and other students are willing to return to school in tandem with online learning opportunities as planned for public districts.
“This is not a petition to say that we shouldn’t go back at all,” Maiello writes. “This is a petition to urge Pope John to follow what public schools are doing, which is 50 percent capacity each day with utilizing online capabilities. The students and families who sign this petition are scared of the way that Pope John is choosing to open back up and want their voices to be heard.”
Catholic Academy of Sussex County communications director Anthony Spaulding said in a statement to NJ Herald that the district is well-prepared for the challenges of returning to full capacity, in-school classes.
As of Monday afternoon, 180 districts across state will begin the school year with fully remote classes. Both remote and in-school classes are planned for 436 districts, and 59 have scheduled full-capacity and full-time classes.
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