By: Tracie Carter/ Richard L. Smith
Thousands of Newark Public Schools teachers and students are set to fill hallways and classrooms at 8:10 a.m. Tuesday, when the 2022-2023 year officially begins with the ring of a school bell.
And though some COVID protocols are in place, things aren't nearly as strict as they once were.
According to Newark Public Schools Superintendent Roger Leon, anyone entering a school building in the city must wear a mask.
The district has required masks in schools since students returned to class during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Officials confirmed that NPS continued the mask mandate this year during summer school and programming.
According to NPS Spokeswoman Nancy Deering, the mask mandate will remain in place for all 38,000 public school students and 6,000 staff members in Newark, where classes until further notice.
Superintendent Leon also touted success in hiring more than 600 new teachers to the district after a nationwide teacher shortage left many classrooms without instructors in New Jersey.
"Our schools can't run without you, and our children won't learn without you. We are excited that you are here, and we want you to know that we are dedicated to making sure you know and feel how important you are every day. I know you could have selected any school district in New Jersey, and we are so honored that you selected Newark."
According to the Newark Teacher's Union July 2, 2022, in a historic contract reopener, the Newark Board of Education and the Newark Teachers Union have agreed to raise the district's new teacher starting salary to $62,000 per year.
Superintendent Leon claimed the Newark Board of Education is now one of the highest-paying districts in New Jersey with both recruitment and retention incentives.
District officials said they have also implemented several district-wide initiatives to help attract and retain teachers.
"Several partnerships with stellar educator preparation programs, such as Montclair State University and Rutgers University-Newark, help us grow the teacher pipeline for hard-to-staff teaching positions such as Bilingual, ESL, and special education teachers," Superintendent Leon concluded.
Expect a soggy community to school around Newark as forecasters from the National Weather Center are predicting periods of heavy rain that could produce some flooding in certain areas around the city and the region.
Rain is expected to continue after school hours and into the evening.