U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona joined Gov. Phil Murphy and other New Jersey leaders Wednesday morning on a tour of in-person classes at Bergenfield High School.
Murphy, Cardona, U.S. Rep. Josh Gottheimer, D-5th Dist., and other officials visited numerous classrooms to chat with students.
Inside a history class, students in masks sat socially distanced in desks with plastic shields. Projected on the white board at the front of the room were students learning remotely.
Murphy, Cardona, and Gottheimer gathered at a computer screen to greet virtual learners.
“I work with President Biden,” Cardona told them. “I see so many good things going on. You can’t tell, but you put a big smile on my face.”
Next was a computer class learning about graphics. After that, the tour stopped at a band class, where students played the officials a song.
“Part of the reason the country is healing is music — it heals us,” Cardona said.
Murphy recalled how he played clarinet when he was in school.
“I was not good,” the governor said with a laugh. "I wasn’t going to be Benny Goodman.”
After that, Murphy and Cardona held a roundtable discussion with some juniors and seniors at the school.
Alyssa Campbell, a senior, said she missed the routine of being in-person at school that “interacting” with her classmates “really helps my education.”
Aurora Madera, another senior, agreed.
“I didn’t learn well over Zoom,” she said. “It’s hard to stay motivated. I think it’s comforting to look over and see someone else as confused as you.”
Also on the tour: State Education Commissioner Angelica Allen-McMillan, state Sen. Joseph Lagana, and state Assembly members Lisa Swain and Christopher Tully.
“We have been focused on returning safely and responsibly our students and educators to their familiar classrooms for one clear reason,” Murphy said during a press conference after the tour. “They are each at their best in classroom settings.”
“Students belong in school,” Cardona said during a press conference after the tour. “And that’s what we saw today.”