Maplewood-South Orange School District Sticking With All-Remote Learning Indefinitely

The Maplewood-South Orange School District is all-remote indefinitely. The district says it can't staff the schools, and teachers are citing safety concerns; CBS2's Meg Baker reports.

Video Transcript

KRISTINE JOHNSON: The Maplewood South Orange school district is all remote indefinitely.

MAURICE DUBOIS: Staffing and safety are the main issues. CBS 2's Meg Baker reports.

MEG BAKER: Open the schools, read signs held by some parents and kids who protested in December calling on the district to give families a choice and begin hybrid, in-person learning.

APRIL MASON: They have not set foot in the school buildings in almost a year now.

MEG BAKER: April Mason's daughters have never met their teachers.

APRIL MASON: Just become really bored and disengaged.

MEG BAKER: The teachers union says educators were excited by the prospect of seeing students, but safety protocols were not enforced by the district. They cite unfit rooms without proper ventilation. A similar situation in the nearby Montclair district with 100-year-old buildings. Stacy Lawrence teaches at Columbia High School.

STACY LAWRENCE: A lot of the public schools are not-- they're just terribly neglected. And that's now being revealed for all to see in this really unfortunate way.

MEG BAKER: But some kids are in the buildings. The Y runs learning pods.

ANNA FERGUSON: Helping the kids with the distance learning. So the kids will log on, and they'll be in little pods. It's very expensive.

MEG BAKER: Anna Furguson's son with special needs attends, but she says it's not enough.

ANNA FERGUSON: He just can't connect on the screen, and as the months go by, he continues to regress physically, emotionally, and educationally.

STACY LAWRENCE: They're definitely not getting all that they need. I think people are trying really hard, but I mean, certainly emotionally, they're sort of isolated. And I mean, that's happening all over.

MEG BAKER: The superintendent would not go on camera. Teachers are also still waiting to hear when they will be eligible for vaccination. In Maplewood South Orange, New Jersey, Meg Baker CBS 2 News.

MAURICE DUBOIS: And the teachers union also says the district failed to process or outright denied high-risk staff the accommodation to work from home, making them use sick days.