April 14, 2020
Dear NJSBA Members,
This week marks one month since Gov. Phil Murphy closed New Jersey’s public schools to try to curb the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.
After New York, no state has been harder hit than New Jersey by COVID-19; we have the second-highest number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the country. And each day, we confront the heartbreaking reports of the ever-higher number of New Jerseyans who have lost their lives to this virus.
Through it all, New Jersey’s board of education members, administrators, teachers and support staff have determinedly carried on the job of educating the state’s 1.4 million public school students. Students are working at their kitchen tables under the watchful eye of their parents, rather than in their classrooms, but the work continues.
The technology and the infrastructure that make online learning possible are a result of the planning and support of New Jersey’s boards of education. This is good governance in practice – and it involves setting strategic goals, having foresight, and collaborating with the superintendent in addressing the needs of the district.
The New Jersey School Boards Association has also carried on with our mission of serving the needs of our members. The COVID-19 Resource webpage (www.njsba.org/COVID-19) is updated daily with news and resources. NJSBA has instituted a series of online programs (www.njsba.org/virtual-programs), including Facebook Live events, podcasts and webinars to address the pressing issues schools are facing during the pandemic. And we’ve even had our first virtual county meeting, with about 40 members of the Warren County School Boards Association coming together last week to hear remarks from Sen. Steve Oroho, Dr. Larry Feinsod, our executive director, and NJSBA staff. Staying connected is critical, and more online county meetings are in the works.
NJSBA’s Officers and Board of Directors are to be commended for enthusiastically embracing the plan to upgrade the Association’s technology. Careful planning has enabled NJSBA to transition to providing such extensive online services.
I want to thank Dr. Feinsod and the staff of NJSBA, who have been working long hours to schedule the new programs, search out resources for members, report on the latest news, and interact with the New Jersey Department of Education and state lawmakers to address some of the difficulties school districts are encountering right now. Our entire staff is ready to serve you, and is just a phone call away.
We can’t predict what will happen in the immediate future. But I am confident that the education community will continue to meet the challenges of this pandemic with hard work, creativity and ingenuity. Please know that NJSBA is here to help in that effort.
On behalf of the NJSBA Officers, I thank New Jersey’s board members, administrators, teachers and our district staff members for all they have done—and are doing—to ensure the continued education of our children.
Michael R. McClure