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No Teachers Convention, but Collingswood Schools Will Still Close

The NJEA was forced to put the kibosh on its annual convention due to storm clean-up. Collingswood expects to remain closed as originally planned.

UPDATE: 1:45 p.m. Fri., Nov. 2

Collingswood Public Schools will remain closed Thursday, Nov. 8 and Friday Nov. 9, the district reported in an announcement on its website today.

Citing "our inability to effectively staff our schools next week and out of respect for families who have made other plans for the long weekend," the school district said that it would remain closed as scheduled, barring an order from the office of the governor.

"While we could probably open each of our buildings next week, we would undoubtedly see higher staff and student absences than usual. Given the important task we face in educating all of our students every day, our focus must remain on quality instruction rather than 'putting in time,'" the announcement states.

As adopted by the Collingswood Board of Education every year, the school calendar contains some cushion for weather-related closings: June 21, Feb. 18, April 3 through 5.

It was not immediately known whether school days lost due to Sandy would need to be made up.

Original story below

New Jersey teachers won’t gather in Atlantic City for their annual convention for the first time in 158 years.

The damage and ongoing problems left behind by Post-Tropical Cyclone Sandy forced the New Jersey Education Association (NJEA) to cancel its Nov. 8-9 conference at the shore town.

NJEA said its convention is the largest gathering of its kind worldwide, and the sheer size helped make the final decision to cancel.

“The NJEA Convention is a massive event, involving tens of thousands of people,” NJEA President Barbara Keshishian said in a press release announcing the cancellation.

“We concluded it was simply not advisable to try to have that many people on the roads and using public transportation while so many communities are struggling to restore power and basic services to their residents—including NJEA members.”

The NJEA convention is not only an annual event for teachers, but a two-day break from school for millions of New Jersey students. Sandy shut down state schools for two days this week, and many other districts had to stay closed for longer because of damage to schools and power outages.

Keshishian vowed that NJEA would return next year to Atlantic City, the famed boardwalk of which took a pounding when Sandy made landfall, causing massive flooding and power outages.

In the meantime, Keshishian said, NJEA is exploring ways for its members, leaders and staff to contribute to the city’s cleanup and recovery.

NJEA wants “to assist in helping this historic city rebuild and recover. Accordingly, we have reached out to area officials to ascertain how we may be of the greatest assistance,” Keshishian said.

“People in Atlantic City are hurting, and we genuinely want to help them in whatever ways we can.”

UPDATE: 8:30 p.m. Thu., Nov. 1

It's about 'quality instruction, not putting in days'

At the time of publication, Collingswood Superintendent Scott Oswald had not finalized plans for the district in light of the convention cancellation; typically, schools close for convention days.

Patch received an e-mail from Oswald Thursday evening elaborating on the issues at work in the process.

"Our first step is to determine if we can staff the schools," he wrote. "With only a week lead time, staff have made plans, etc.

There are no contractual issues gumming up the works, Oswald wrote. Instead, administrators are balancing "how successful we will be at staffing the schools" versus "the impact [of] having too many substitutes have on the instructional process," he wrote.

"As you know, education is about quality instruction, not putting in days," Oswald wrote.

Collingswoodnative November 02, 2012 at 08:12 PM
"...out of respect for families who have made other plans for the long weekend,"
Sean Andrew November 02, 2012 at 09:14 PM
As a parent and step-parent of several kids traveling with another family of school-aged kids next week, I'm happy my kids will not miss school days. I agree with CollsNative that this was the respectful (and right) decision given the short notice.

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