Today thirteen public charter schools in Newark signed the “COVID-19 Compact” that represents a commitment to common standards for the new school year. These standards promise Newark’s charter school families that schools will reopen responsibly, ensure high safety standards for students and staff, maintain the high-quality instruction both in buildings and at home, and support children’s social-emotional learning needs.
The Compact was created by all school leaders with support from the New Jersey Children’s Foundation. NJCF’s Executive Director Kyle Rosenkrans said, “We are heartened to see Newark’s charter schools come together to articulate strong, yet flexible standards for reopening schools safely, even as state rules and pandemic conditions are creating a fast-moving target for everyone right now.”
NJCF has been running weekly meetings among the 16 charter leaders whose free, open-enrollment schools, managed by non-profit boards, educate 40% of Newark public school students. Thirteen of them signed the Compact. According to a press release, the Compact “aims to capture the many common principles employed by every school as school begins to reopen.”
The Compact itself lists four general goals, each accompanied by bullet points. These goals are prefaced by this mission statement:
Driven by our missions to ensure all students have the opportunity to succeed academically and beyond, we will meet and exceed safety standards, provide engaging and rigorous instruction, and ensure that student and family needs are met. While there will be diverse approaches across schools that are sensitive to the needs of each school community, we share a common set of priorities.
In our current context of unprecedented uncertainty, school systems must be prepared to respond rapidly to changing guidance and public health circumstances. Staying within the parameters set by the Governor and New Jersey Department of Education, we will use public health data to drive decision-making. Through these shifts, the priorities and principles in this compact will guide our approach to serving families, educators and staff, and our broader communities. We also understand that our ability to meet the following goals are also subject to numerous variables, such as adequate funding and staff availability.
The four goals, in accordance with each school’s reopening plan, are:
1. Prioritizing health and safety for students, staff, and families above all.
2. Providing equitable access to high quality instruction to all of our students, including those who are learning virtually.
3. Ensuring effective two-way communication on reopening plans and ongoing guidance to our school community.
4. Meeting student and family needs in the classroom and beyond.
The thirteen schools that signed the Compact are BRICK Education Network, Discovery Charter School, Great Oaks Legacy Charter School, KIPP New Jersey, LEAD Charter School, Link Community Charter School, Newark Educators Community Charter School, North Star Academy, People’s Prep Charter School, Philip’s Academy Charter School, Robert Treat Academy Charter School, Roseville Community Charter School, and University Heights Charter School