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Due To Teacher Shortage And Safety Concerns, Elizabeth, N.J. Public Schools Going Full Remote Learning

ELIZABETH, N.J. (CBSNewYork) -- Local school districts in New Jersey vary widely in terms of their reopening plans.

As CBS2's Nick Caloway reported Tuesday, one won't open at all for in-person learning this fall.

School buildings in Elizabeth will remain empty this fall.

"Frankly, we don't have enough teachers," Mayor Chris Bollwage said.


Bollwage said it would be mathematically impossible to reopen classrooms, because hundreds of teachers have requested to teach from home due to health concerns.

"As of this stage, 375 teachers have called out for medical reasons. We believe that number is going to go to 600," Bollwage said.

That's out of 2,000 teachers.

So the school board voted Monday to begin the new school year next month with all remote learning for 28,000 students, due to the teacher shortage and COVID-19 safety concerns.

MORENearly 75% Of New York City Students Plan To Return To Classrooms This Fall

Caloway visited Frank J. Cicarell Academy while students were picking up new laptops to help with online learning. Parents like Michele Delcueto are torn on the issue.

"I'm kind of divided between the subject, because I have a senior at home that wants to go back to school," Delcueto said.

But she also worries about safety.

Delcueto's daughter, Ashley, misses school and was hoping to go back for hybrid learning in the fall.

"I'm a little disappointed in that, but I'm also concerned for the safety of my classmates and myself," Ashley Delcueto said.

CORONAVIRUS: NY Health Dept. | NY Call 1-(888)-364-3065 | NYC Health Dept. | NYC Call 311, Text COVID to 692692 | NJ COVID-19 Info Hub | NJ Call 1-(800)-222-1222 or 211, Text NJCOVID to 898211 | CT Health Dept. | CT Call 211 | Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Parent Christina Nieves said the district made the right choice.

"I mean, do we really want to risk our children going back to school, getting sick and getting all the other kids sick, and then we are all back lock down all over again?" Nieves said.

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Elizabeth is just the latest large school district to make the call for remote learning only, joining cities like Bayonne and Jersey City and all going against calls by Gov. Phil Murphy to return to the classroom.

Asked when schools can reopen, Mayor Bollwage said that's up to the coronavirus.

"If we think for one minute that the virus is not controlling the situation, we are kidding ourselves. And clearly that has to dictate every decision we make," Bollwage said.

Elizabeth public schools lost four teachers and a bus driver to COVID-19 in the spring, so officials say safety has to be the priority when deciding when to go back.

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