The following letter was written by the Mercer County Association of School Administrators and submitted to MercerMe today by HVRSD Superintendent Dr. Thomas Smith:
February 1, 2021
Dear Governor Murphy:
We write to you as the united Superintendents of Mercer County to urge that educators receive the highest priority in the distribution of Covid vaccines. Until our teachers can return to classrooms safely and with confidence, New Jersey will feel the negative consequences of the pandemic both educationally and economically.
Our ability to maintain classroom learning is directly affected by having healthy teachers and staff, whose safety and confidence hinges on access to the vaccines. As the spring term progresses, we must provide a consistent environment for student success, one as free as possible from the disruptions of sudden quarantines and reversions to remote instruction.
As veteran educators, we can attest that this is the most serious threat to education and the well-being of our children that we have seen in our careers. Your leadership can make a difference. It is urgent that we vaccinate educators quickly and stabilize the classroom environment. Our teachers and staff are frontline workers and their efforts contribute not only to the health of New Jersey’s economy but to the future of every child in this state.
It is of course imperative that our first responders, essential workers, medical field workers, medically vulnerable, and senior citizens receive the vaccine first; however, those who work in public and private schools– K-12 schools, colleges, universities, daycare centers, and other educational institutions– must be provided vaccinations as soon as possible. Vaccinating those who work with students means increasing the possibility of in-person education. It also means we can begin the long road to remediating the academic and social-emotional concerns resulting from a year without consistent in-person schooling.
We also have to share our willingness to offer our facilities, skilled staff and operational planning teams to the vaccination effort. From a logistical point of view, New Jersey’s schools are ideal vaccination locations. Many districts have adequate parking, large indoor spaces, and staffing and communications capabilities that make them conducive for designated vaccination sites. Schools deal with large-scale events and the logistics associated with them all the time. We plan student orientations, graduations, sporting events, and musicals that involve hundreds of people in attendance at one time. Let us also not forget that we move hundreds of students and staff in and out of our schools daily, and transport students across our towns. School districts and our schools know how to plan for and set up large events, staff them, run them, and keep people safe.
In closing, we know that you share our motivating goal to open up our schools as safely, effectively and quickly as possible. By prioritizing vaccinations for school employees, you can help us achieve this important goal that will benefit so many of our students and community members. Again, please know that we are willing and able to help this process in any way possible.
Thank you for your time and consideration.
Thomas Smith, President, MCASA David Aderhold, Secretary, MCASA
Superintendent, Hopewell Valley Reg. Superintendent, West Windsor-Plainsboro Reg.
Michael Nitti Ross Kasun
Superintendent, Ewing Township Schools Superintendent, Lawrence Township Schools
Scott Rocco Brian Betze
Superintendent, Hamilton Township Schools Superintendent of Robbinsville Public Schools
Alfonso Llano Jr. Mark Daniels
Acting Superintendent, Trenton Schools Superintendent, East Windsor Reg. Schools
Interim Superintendent, Princeton Reg.
Superintendent, Mercer County SpecialSchool District and Mercer County Technical Schools
Judith Persichilli, Commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Health
Angelica Allen-McMillan, Acting Commissioner New Jersey Department of Education
Bonnie Watson Coleman, Congress Woman,12th Congressional District
Shirley K. Turner, Senator 15th District
Verlina Reynold-Jackson, Assemblywoman 15th District
Anthony S. Verrelli, Assemblyman 15th District
Linda R. Greenstein, Senator 14th District
Daniel R. Benson, Assemblyman 14th District
Wayne P. Deangelo, Assemblyman 14th District
Christopher Bateman, Senator 16th District
Roy Freiman, Assemblyman 16th District
Andrew Zwicker, Assemblyman 16th District