***For Immediate Release***
August 13, 2020
Contact: press@njchildren.org


Common Principles Ensure Charters Deliver Clarity and Equity to Newark Students, Teachers and Families Returning to School Amidst a Pandemic

Newark, NJ – Representing nearly 40 percent of students in the city’s public schools, Newark’s public charter schools came together to announce a series of common standards for a new school year beginning amidst the Coronavirus pandemic.  Their “COVID-19 Compact” lays out promises to the community to reopen schools responsibly, with care to ensure high safety standards for staff and students, high quality instruction and online learning, as well as support for social emotional learning needs.

The compact was created with support from the Newark-based New Jersey Children’s Foundation (NJCF)—a local non-profit that has been facilitating weekly briefings among local charter leaders during the pandemic to provide support to the decentralized sector of sixteen free, open-enrollment public schools managed by non-profit boards (thirteen of which signed the compact). While each school is taking an approach to reopening and remote learning that is consistent with state guidelines and meets the needs of their individual school community, the compact aims to capture the many common principles employed by every school as school begins to reopen.

“We are heartened to see Newark’s charter schools come together to articulate strong, yet flexible standards for reopening schools safely, even as state rules and pandemic conditions are creating a fast-moving target for everyone right now,” said Kyle Rosenkrans, NJCF’s Executive Director.

The compact includes the following commitments:

Prioritizing health and safety for students, staff, and families above all.

  1. Implementing health, safety, and sanitation protocols above and beyond state mandated guidance including:
    1. Grouping students into cohorts to minimize exposure
    2. Arranging classrooms to promote safety (e.g. desks face the same direction, space desks as far apart as possible) and requiring masks throughout the day except for meal times
    3. Scheduled hand washing and sanitizing throughout the day
    4. Ensuring all students and staff have access to masks and other PPE
    5. Training educators and staff on all health and safety protocols
    6. Closely cooperating with local health officials to respond immediately to potential or known COVID-19 cases
  2. Vetting reopening plans and procedures with medical professionals.
  3. Responding immediately to the newest public health guidance and developments about COVID-19 to ensure the highest level of safety possible.

Providing equitable access to high quality instruction to all of our students, including those who are learning virtually.

  1. Delivering high quality instruction to all students, ensuring students receive the Special Education and English Language Learning services they are entitled to, offering individual support from educators, and creating opportunities for engagement with peers for all students, even those attending fully remotely.
  2. Ensuring that no child is kept from fully participating in remote instruction because of technology issues by doing everything possible to guarantee that every student is provided with the device and internet access they need.

Ensuring effective two-way communication on reopening plans and ongoing guidance to our school community.

  1. Communicating reopening plans, ongoing guidance, and new information promptly, transparently, through multiple methods, and in multiple languages when needed.
  2. Engaging all families and staff in ongoing formal and informal opportunities to provide feedback and ask questions, and responding to all questions and concerns raised as information becomes available.
  3. Consistently re-evaluating all procedures and protocols based on community input and needs.

Meeting student and family needs in the classroom and beyond.

  1. Committing to bridging the digital divide for our students by doing everything in our power to ensure that all students have access to the technology needed to engage in remote learning by connecting families with one-to-one devices and internet access when needed.
  2. Supporting the social-emotional needs of students in the current climate by implementing additional services and changes to instruction.
  3. Providing access to meals and connections to other resources and services to ensure students’ basic needs are met and support their families.
  4. Creating opportunities for students to receive extra academic support when they need it.

Newark Charter School Signatories

  1. BRICK Education Network
  2. Discovery Charter School
  3. Great Oaks Legacy Charter School
  4. KIPP New Jersey
  5. LEAD Charter School
  6. Link Community Charter School
  7. Newark Educators Community Charter School
  8. North Star Academy
  9. People’s Prep Charter School
  10. Philip’s Academy Charter School
  11. Robert Treat Academy Charter School
  12. Roseville Community Charter School
  13. University Heights Charter School