Schools closed until May 15, what does it mean for students?

Emily Cooke is a high school senior who says adjusting to homeschooling has been hard. Now that Gov. Phil Murphy has closed schools until May 15, she’s worried she’ll miss out on the major milestones of her senior year, like prom and graduation.

“We’re just holding on to a little bit of hope that we might be able to see those people again,” she said.

Dawn Vacca is a mom of three elementary-aged kids, who sees it very differently.

“I just wish we would just make the call for the year at this point. We have our routine, we have our schedule and it’s just so important to be safe,” Vacca said.

Routine is key as the school closure continues, says Dr. Gemar Mills.

“Students are used to waking up early, brushing their teeth, hopping in the shower, putting on some clothes and then getting prepared for the day. It’s important that families continue to do that because it’s going to set the tone for what the expectation is,” said Mills.

“We do get up early. I try to make sure that she eats. That’s something that she wasn’t doing before when she was rushing out to school,” said Davia Brown Franklyn.

Brown Franklyn’s daughter Marley is a sophomore in Teaneck who’s on the clock from 8 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. And while they have the routine down, she acknowledges that another month of home instruction will have an impact.

“There will be a lot of catchup for many students, and I think as parents and as school administrators, we going to have to be OK with that. Because if we don’t get the social emotional right, right now, we’re not going to be able to get them to dig into the real educational component of it. The social emotional is a part of the educational component, it’s really important,” she said.

“We lost our, my father in law, during this and not being able to properly grieve. And having a loss during this time has just added a whole other level of pain for these kids,” Vacca said.

“It’s going to be very, very important for them to be in heavy communication with the teacher. Not just about the school work, but about their family’s set up and structure. Those things are going to be vital to the success of this kind of partnership,” added Mills.

One idea proposed by Mills is to change next year’s school calendar to start in August and eliminate some scheduled holidays to help get students back on track.