A bumpy start to the school year for some Paterson families

Raven Santana, Correspondent | September 9, 2020 | Education

Grandmother Dana Glasspie described the first day of virtual learning for for her two grandchildren, 9-year-old Jaylah and 11-year-old Xavier, at Paterson Public Schools as a disaster

“Yesterday we didn’t get on until almost around noon time. The teachers at the school were struggling with some of the links. Jaylah there was no response. She was checking her schedule and she didn’t even have the link for physical education on the computer. We were waiting to find out what we’re doing,” she said.

Glasspie has a full-time job but took off the week to help her grandchildren while their parents are away at work.

“At first the teachers were having trouble sending the links to us so that we can get in the class. So my first period of my homeroom teacher, we didn’t do that one. My second for my science teacher, we didn’t do that one,” the 6th grader said.

“It’s been kind of hard because sometimes it’s hard for me to get in different classes,” Jaylah said. “I get upset because I can’t get into [the classes] and I want to know what she said. The other day, our teacher couldn’t hear us and she kept screaming and she could figure out how to send the link.”

“The challenge is when you have two different grade levels, so imagine parents who have multiple children that have different grade levels. It’s a challenge. I can’t even imagine that because, again, I’m not a teacher,” Glasspie said.

Paterson switched from a hybrid plan to an all remote plan in mid-August, after parents and teachers voiced concerns over health and safety if students returned to classrooms. Since then, officials have raced to get students outfitted with laptops and supplies before the start of the remote school year. They were able to secure Chromebooks for all their students with about a week to go.

“Paterson schools are huge. The classrooms are overcrowded so I know that it’s a big challenge for Paterson schools, but this has been a challenge for a very long time. I just think that the option should still be available for everyone. It should not just mandated to where everyone stays home,” Glasspie said.

Paterson parent Bobby Faison says it’s been a bumpy start to the school year for his seventh grader.

“Yesterday was OK where he went on to Google classroom, there was a few messages sent by teachers. He clicked the link. He was able to get in and was able to get in most of his classes. Today he goes to log on and the link isn’t working. We messaged a couple teachers, no response,” Faison said. “I’m still supportive of it. I think safety is always priority. I just wish that this virtual learning was more organized.”

Paterson Schools Superintendent Eileen Shafer told NJTV News in a statement, “Paterson Public Schools is at the ready to assist any student or parent who needs assistance … the district will continue to work to make sure students have the most engaging and effective remote learning experience possible.”

The district will remain remote until at least Nov. 1.