AFTNJ welcomes staff representative Joe Norris

The AFTNJ on Jan. 4 welcomed its new staff representative, Joe Norris, who fills the void left by the retirement of Joanna McAvoy.

Norris previously worked for New York-headquartered United Healthcare Workers East/1199 SEIU, the largest health care union in the country, for more than 15 years.

“My background at 1199 SEIU has assisted me greatly in my new role as an AFTNJ staff representative,” Norris says.…

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NJ DOH issues guidance for test to stay in K-12

The New Jersey Department of Health on Jan. 1 issued interim guidance for implementing test to stay (TTS) in K-12 schools.

TTS, a combination of contact tracing and serial testing, allows for “asymptomatic unvaccinated students who were exposed to a person with COVID-19 in any school setting where students are supervised by school staff … to continue in-person academic activities” that fall within the regular curriculum and occur during school hours, per the guidance.…

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ACE workshop to focus on Latino student success

The American Council on Education will present a two-part workshop in January and February featuring experts providing information on how to implement and advance policies and programs designed to increase Latino student success.

Participants in the “Implementing What Works for Latino Students” sessions will “discuss tools to assess Latino student strengths and needs, identify metrics to determine program effectiveness, and focus on being intentional in serving Latino student populations through program sustainability and institutionalization,” per ACE’s website.…

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Murphy signs batch of education-related bills

Gov. Phil Murphy on Dec. 21 signed A2455/S2204, which establishes a pilot program to support robotics programs in school districts.

Murphy also signed the following education-related bills into law this week:

S108/A169: Concerns speech rights of student journalists at public schools and public institutions of higher education

S2834/A5312: Mandates training on culturally responsive teaching for all candidates for teaching certification

A4433/S2715: Creates grant program to encourage school districts to partner with institutions of higher education in training school-based mental health service providers

A4435/S2717: Requires Department of Children and Families to give priority to certain school districts with student mental health counseling centers in awarding grants under School Based Youth Services Program…

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N.J. Assembly passes bill for school robotics programs

By unanimous vote, the full New Jersey Assembly on Dec. 20 passed A2455, which establishes a pilot program to support robotics programs in school districts. Under this bill, up to 12 school districts would be chosen by New Jersey’s education commissioner to take part in a three-year pilot program that would encourage schools to set up robotics programs and enter into robotics competitions.…

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How U.S. teachers have handled this school year

Witnessing more violence and behavioral issues at their schools as well as reaching a degree of mental exhaustion are among the issues U.S. teachers have experienced so far this school year, write CNN’s Alisha Ebrahimji and Christina Zdanowicz.

Many of the 700 educators who responded to CNN’s inquiry about how they’re coping said “this has been the toughest year for teaching they’ve ever had,” write Ebrahimji and Zdanowicz.…

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Updated guidelines reduce quarantine for N.J. students exposed to COVID

Per updated state guidelines, students in New Jersey who’ve had close contact with COVID-positive classmates or teachers now only need to quarantine for seven days, provided they test negative on the fifth through seventh day. If no test is taken, then it’s 10 days.

N.J. Advance Media’s Kelly Heyboer takes a closer look at the rule changes.…

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AFT task force aims to address teacher, school staff shortages

The AFT on Dec. 16 launched a 23-member national task force “to tackle widespread educator and support staff shortages imperiling the future of public schools and public education,” according to a press release.

“Teachers’ working conditions are students’ learning conditions,” AFT President Randi Weingarten said in the release. “Even before COVID, nurses, guidance counselors, teachers, support staff and bus drivers were facing daunting workloads and a lack of respect.…

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