Assembly Democrats are working to shore up the Garden State’s school system in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle introduced legislation designed to streamline the process for schools and institutions of higher education in their response to COVID-19 infections.
The bill would mandate notification to school communities about COVID-19 infections, exclude members of a school community infected with COVID-19 from in-person activities, and require the New Jersey Department of Education to develop a data dashboard on coronavirus cases in schools.
The proposed legislation would establish as well protocols for notification and isolation in the event of COVID-19 infections at institutions of higher education and require the Secretary of Higher Education to develop a data dashboard on COVID-19.
“Our educators never imagined that they would be frontline heroes in a crisis such as this,” said Vainieri Huttle. “These bills will provide staff, students and their families with timely information on potential exposure and will also keep the community informed about any potential spikes in COVID-19 cases.”
A second bill, sponsored by Vainieri Huttle along with Assembly members Pamela Lampitt and Adam Taliaferro, would create a five-year pilot program to expand a social emotional learning program to grades kindergarten through fifth grade across the state. The first bill was passed the Assembly Education Committee.
The social emotional learning program was designed in the Clayton school district as a model to be used across the entire state. Under the five-year pilot program, 10 public schools across the state would be eligible to participate.
The program focuses on two strategies: foster students’ socio-emotional development while creating safe and caring learning spaces.
“It’s commonly said that it takes a village to raise a child. It also takes a village to educate a child, and that’s exactly the kind of holistic, collaborative approach taken by the Clayton model,” said the bill’s sponsors in a press statement. “Parents, peers, caregivers and community members can all play a role in supporting the social and emotional development of children.”