These are my comments to the Paterson Board of Education yesterday.

The reopening of schools gives me hope that there is a light at the end of this Covid-19 tunnel.

92% of the staff was in attendance! How wonderful! My gratitude to all the staff members who have returned this week to prepare for the students, and to the ones who’ve been in-person all along.

It also gives me hope that some students will return to in-person learning next week, even though it is a small percentage of our population. Thank you for leaving a choice in place for the parents that want to keep their children home even though they qualify for in-person.

PPS has put a lot of energy into ensuring us that the buildings are safe. PEA raised questions about the safety of our facilities, with evidence of pictures and videos. PEF suggested an independent audit by Work Environment Council. To my knowledge, the official WEC findings have not been released. However, I’ve seen pictures of a hole in a wall and mold and dead insects, that were allegedly taken and posted yesterday. While these did not prevent the reopening of the buildings, they are issues that must be addressed immediately to ensure everyone’s safety. Mold is a toxic substance; dead pests present a health hazard and crumbling walls, a safety hazard.

Even if the occurrences are small, these issues are barriers to physical, social, and emotional wellbeing.

One of my favorite quotes is from Maya Angelo “Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.”

We cannot succeed if we do not change.