Staying home: Students and staff respond

Students and staff alike had strong reactions to the decision by the district Board of Education that Passaic schools will remain remote through the end of the school year.

Here are a few of those reactions. If you want your voice to be heard as well, email your reaction to Mr. Schmerler at [email protected]


Kirsten Huze
Ms. Huze

Ms. Huze

“Part of me is disappointed because I am really tired of teaching to a computer screen. I was looking forward to meeting my students face-to-face and getting back in the building to see my friends and colleagues. However, I think this decision might be for the best. It will give everyone time to get vaccinated if they wish and the school buildings can be in the best condition for when we return in September.”

Ms. VanderStadt

“It makes me sad. The seniors are missing out on so much. I haven’t even met some of my students. I am kind of sick of being home all the time. The isolation is not good for everyone. I am just hoping next school year we can return.”

Mr. Dhuyvetter

“I personally feel that the Board made the right decision and took the safety of every student and staff member into consideration. I know it is hard for everyone to be home, but we all need to be where it is safe, and until the numbers go down this is the best decision.”

Theodore Graham
Mr. Graham

Mr. Graham

“My feelings regarding the decision are many and complex.  I absolutely miss walking into Prep and being in-person with my students and my colleagues.  I look forward to the day we can all do that in much safer conditions.  I know that this has been a hard year for many people, but I am also glad that we are not going to need to worry about students and school employees getting sick in the building and furthermore bring Covid-19 home to their families.  Unfortunately, I think with the current situation that was probably an inevitability if we were to return. I know I am not alone in wishing we weren’t living through a pandemic, but I am glad to have an answer so I can plan and continue to focus on supporting my students to the best of my ability.”

Ryan Contaldi

Mr. Contaldi

“I personally think it was a good idea to extend remote learning. I do not think that this is anyone’s ideal teaching/learning environment, but the safety of staff and, especially, students is the main factor. If learning cannot be done safely while in person, then remote is the only option.  No one pictured or wanted over a year of remote learning. We have all, students and staff alike, done our best — and let’s hope September brings back a sense of normalcy.”



Daniella Russo, 12th grade

“Hearing the vote recently that decided we’d be remote all year as a senior is quite upsetting, especially since this year is the most anticipated because it’s our last year in high school. But I understand the circumstances.”

Amari Gawthney
Amari Gawthney

Amari Gawthney, 11th grade, Student Council President

“Personally I’m stuck in the middle. Part of me wants to go back and just be able to feel normal again, but the other part of me understands why, and knows it’s to keep us safe. I know this isn’t what many of you expected, but we all have to try and stay motivated to finish the school year. It’s hard getting used to the new normal, but soon enough we will begin reliving in the normality we once had, and even though this may have not been the answer we may have liked, we need to remember that the decision was made to keep us as safe as possible. With that being said, continue being safe and stay motivated. The year isn’t over yet.”

Jasmine Reyes, 12th grade

“Throughout my final year in high school, I never imagined for my last year to be through a screen. Personally, it would’ve been nice to have been in school with my friends to be able to make more memories, but part of me isn’t really as affected by it or upset. I do perform much better in school than through a screen, but since it’s been decided we’re ending the year fully remote, I think I’ll be fine with that and it won’t be as stressful for me since I’ve gotten a job.”

Ariadna Miranda, 7th grade

“I feel very in-between about the situation. I do think it’s best if we stay remote learning for the benefit of students and teachers. It would be very rushed because not all teachers have gotten vaccinated and neither have students. On the other hand, returning for the last three months would be pointless. But it would be good trying to return to our pre-COVID routines and creating antibodies against COVID. I would love to return to school, but for my safety and for others it would be best to keep doing remote learning.”

Daniela Velazquez
Daniela Velazquez

Daniela Velazquez, 11th grade, Student Council Vice President

“The decision made was evidently not one many were anticipating. It is a difficult situation, but let us try our best to end the year strong. We have made it this far, crawling and preserving through the obstacles thrown at us. We are stronger than we think we are and we are capable of achieving so many things. I hope I remember it is okay to feel tired right now. I hope everyone finds methods to relax and de-stress. Please know you are not alone. We are all proud of the efforts you have made thus far. To our seniors, I know this will be your last year and it will be behind the screen. It is unfortunate. But, I hope you know you have made such an impact on the school throughout these years and the future will hold a vast amount of opportunities to socialize and make so many memories. Stay strong and I hope you know PREP loves you all! We can do this. I hope everyone enjoys their Spring break and rests well! Stay strong and awesome, PREP family!”

Amy Zarebczan
Amy Zarebczan

Amy Zarebczan, 11th grade

“It is very unfortunate, but it is the best thing for all students, teachers, staff, and administrators across the district. Health is everyone’s number one priority right now, and it is very crucial to keep on doing what we are doing. Stay positive and strong! Hope to see the Prep building next year!”