PATERSON, NJ – When John P. Holland Charter School welcomes back its students for in-person learning later this fall, they’ll be walking into a brand new school.
On Tuesday, a ribbon cutting ceremony was held at the school’s newly built location at Garrett Mountain Plaza in neighboring Woodland Park, a site that school officials say will provide students with a safe and spacious learning environment full of modern conveniences.
Christina Scano, the school’s founder, said it is, “A big difference from our last building in Paterson that was built in 1890.” After receiving approval from the state – a process that took nearly three years – work began to transform the space to accommodate John P. Holland’s 552 Paterson students.
“We have been welcomed in the Mountain Development Family, the owners of our current building, as well as Woodland Park and we are truly grateful,” Scano told TAPInto Paterson. “In addition, we would not be able to have staff in our building if it weren’t for our construction crews that worked tirelessly during COVID so that we can open on time.”
“It was truly a team effort and we can’t wait to welcome everyone to the building once it is safe to do so,” she added. At the school, students will attend class virtually and teachers will teach remotely from their classrooms until the first marking period ends on Nov. 10.
Prior to Gov. Phil Murphy’s announcement that schools could begin the 2020-21 academic year remotely under certain circumstances, John P. Holland planned to use a hybrid schedule that would gradually phase in pre-K-8 students over the next three months.
After the Paterson Public School District said it would begin the year entirely remote, Scano said her school followed suit and that she believes the new plan is the best option to keep staff, students and teachers safe.
In March, after Murphy ordered all schools to close as part of the state’s efforts to limit the spread of COVID-19, teaching was done virtually for the remainder of the school year, which, Scano said went well, considering the circumstances.
“Our teachers delivered remote education every day from 8 a.m. to 12 noon,” she said. “All of our students had devices and the free Wi-Fi that was provided by many companies for those families that did not have it.”
The school also made efforts to connect with students and families via its social media accounts, she added.
“We utilized our Facebook page with daily morning announcements that included a segment call ‘Where is Dr. Keonte doing the Pledge?’, the weather and a bit of history. We then offered segments all day long which included yoga, a segment on animals, and we ended each evening with a bedtime story from a staff member,” she said.
By doing that we created some normalcy in a very unpredictable time,” Scano said. “It was definitely an unusual time however I believe our staff, parents and students made the best of it.”
Editor Steve Lenox contributed information to this story.