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Newark Schools Reopen For In-Person Classes

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New Jersey's largest school district reopens for in-person learning Monday, as the spread of COVID-19 slows in the state. CBS2's John Dias has the details.

Video Transcript

CHRIS WRAGGE: And this morning, the road to reopening includes schools in New Jersey's largest school district. Newark students are returning to in-person learning.

MARY CALVI: This as the spread of COVID-19 is slowing in the state. CBS 2's John Dias joins us from First Avenue Elementary School in Newark with more. John?

JOHN DIAS: Yeah, good morning, Chris. Good morning, Mary. Well, according to the mayor, most parents here in Newark, New Jersey are opting to keep their kids at home for the remainder of the school year to continue that remote learning. But he is insisting, though, that the classroom is a safe place for these kids, and he hopes that by September, more kids will return back to the classroom, that more parents will change their minds and opt to have these kids returned back to in-person learning.

This morning, New Jersey's largest school district is resuming in-person learning. Newark Public School students haven't physically stepped foot in a school in more than a year.

RAS BARAKA: It is incredible, the work that Newark Public Schools has done to get our kids and faculty ready for school.

JOHN DIAS: Last week, the mayor of Newark spoke about the reopening plan on a Facebook Live, saying schools will operate on a hybrid model, with students spending three days at home and two days in the classroom. Less than 40% of parents decided to bring their kids back to school.

RAS BARAKA: They have air filters in every room-- the main office, the gym. They have a separate room for kids who may have a fever and separate rooms for people who they have identified as COVID-positive.

JOHN DIAS: School officials say there will be tight protocols. All students and staff must wear face masks at all times, practice social distancing. Desks will be spaced out 6 feet apart with three-sided clear partitions, and water fountains will be turned off.

RAS BARAKA: You get your temperature checked. You sanitize your hands. You sanitize your feet. They got sanitation stations in every classroom. Every Wednesday, shutting the school down to do deep cleaning in the school. And they're doing pool testing.

JOHN DIAS: In Essex County, nearly 158,000 people are fully vaccinated. This comes as New Jersey is reporting a drop in transmission to less than 1%, and more than 2 million people are now fully vaccinated.

And the mayor is saying that almost 2,000 school employees have already received the first dose of a COVID vaccine. And this time next week, a week from today, anyone living in New Jersey 16 years and older can sign up to get their shot. We are live this morning from Newark, New Jersey, John Dias, CBS 2 News.

CHRIS WRAGGE: John, thank you.