“COVID-19 Compact” to Ensure Safety, High Expectations, Transparency

Newark, New Jersey – September 9, 2021. After over 18-months of learning uncertainty and reports showcasing massive learning loss, almost all of Newark’s public charter schools, representing nearly 40 percent of students in the city’s public schools, announced today a series of common safety standards and expectations for a new school year, including masking and vaccination requirements.  With the COVID-19 pandemic continuing to impact classrooms across the nation, the Compact hopes to provide Newark parents with a clear vision for the school year, going beyond individual school plans and asserting a collective commitment for the safety of Newark’s students, families, staff, and the entire community.

Originally adopted last school year, the Compact was created to provide needed transparency, high expectations, and clear safety guidelines for the Newark community.  Now in its second year, the Compact has been updated to proactively address specific parental concerns for this school year and address new issues that have developed in the last year.  The Compact was created with the support of the Newark-based New Jersey Children’s Foundation (NJCF) — a local non-profit that has facilitated weekly briefings and support to local charter leaders during the pandemic.

“This is no time to be silent.  Parents are concerned about their children, and they want to be informed on how schools have prepared for the new school year,” stated Kyle Rosenkrans, NJCF’s Executive Director. “Newark’s public charter schools are committed to doing everything possible to keep their students, staff, and the broader community safe.”

This year’s COVID-19 Compact was signed by BRICK Education Network, Discovery Charter School, Great Oaks Legacy Charter School, KIPP New Jersey, LEAD Charter School, Link Community Charter School, Marion P. Thomas Charter School, Newark Educators Community Charter School, North Star Academy, People’s Prep Charter School, Philip’s Academy Charter School, Robert Treat Academy Charter School, Roseville Community Charter School, University Heights Charter School and addresses the following goals for the new school year:

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

  1. Requiring that all teachers and staff working in the school building are either vaccinated for COVID-19 or agree to regular COVID testing, in line with state requirements, and encouraging all eligible members of the school community to get vaccinated.
  2. Implementing health, safety, and sanitation protocols aligned to state-mandated guidance including:
    1. Grouping students to minimize exposure (e.g. cohorts)
    2. Arranging classrooms to promote safety (e.g. desks face the same direction, space desks as far apart as possible, desk shields)
    3. Requiring masks throughout the day for all students and staff
    4. Scheduled hand washing and sanitizing throughout the day
    5. Ensuring all students and staff have access to masks and other PPE
    6. Training educators and staff on all health and safety protocols
    7. Closely cooperating with local health officials to respond immediately to potential or known COVID-19 cases
    8. Working toward ensuring COVID testing for students or staff is widely available when needed.
    9. Vetting reopening plans and procedures with medical professionals.
    10. 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 when students are learning remotely for their safety.

    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 if individual students or cohorts are temporarily learning remotely due to quarantine procedures.
    2. Ensuring that no child who is learning remotely due to quarantine procedures is kept from 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.
    3. Maintaining a contingency plan for providing full remote instruction that can take effect quickly, should there be a public health need to close the school building.

    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. Supporting the social-emotional needs of students in the current climate by implementing additional services and changes to instruction.
    2. Identifying students in need of academic support and creating opportunities for students to receive extra learning support when they need it.
    3. Providing access to meals and connections to other resources and services to ensure students’ basic needs are met and support their families.
    4. 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.