February 8, 2021

Dear Governor Murphy:

As united Superintendents in Essex County, we urge you to prioritize the administration of the COVID vaccine for our teachers, support staff, and school administrators as a matter of the highest importance. This decision is vital because our schools serve an integral role in addressing the varied needs of our communities as we grapple with the ramifications this pandemic has left behind.

It is critical that our teachers and support staff remain healthy if we expect to maintain classroom learning for our students. With access to the vaccine, we can safely and expeditiously embark on the road back, minimizing the disruptions that can create unnecessary problems for our students, staff, and families.

Our collective educational experiences shine a light on the harsh realities that we are facing in this seminal moment in the lives of our students. As Governor, you have the opportunity to designate priority and establish a real perspective and urgency that will benefit this generation for years to come. It is paramount that we vaccinate educators as soon as possible and restore normalcy so we may make critical contributions to the educational and economic prosperity of our state.

We recognize how imperative it is to provide vaccinations for first responders, healthcare professionals, senior citizens, and individuals with high risk medical conditions. We must also recognize that educators are essential frontline workers who directly interact with a substantial number of students and the public each day. Vaccinating staff who work closely with our students will allow us to significantly increase the possibility of a return to in-person learning in our classrooms. To do so will enable us to begin to address the concerns about the social, emotional, and academic effects this pandemic is having on our children. 

Please know that we stand ready to work with you to accomplish this goal. School districts possess the available facilities and skilled personnel with an ability to accommodate large-scale events that would be an asset in the coordination of vaccine distribution. We understand that you share our collective goal of returning all students and staff to classrooms as soon as possible. If you prioritize the vaccination of school personnel, you will create opportunities for us to address the needs of our students and school communities. We are willing to assist you to make this a reality.  

We appreciate your time and consideration. Thank you for your leadership and efforts.


Dr. Rui Dionisio, Co-President, ECASA

Superintendent, Verona Public Schools

Dirk Phillips, Co-President, ECASA

Superintendent, Glen Ridge Public Schools

Dr. Richard Tomko, Treasurer, ECASA          

Superintendent, Belleville Public Schools

Dr. James Heinegg

Superintendent, Caldwell – West Caldwell

Damion Macioci                                                    

Superintendent, West Essex Regional School District 

Dr. Linda Freda

Superintendent, North Caldwell 

Dr. Susan Ciccotelli

Superintendent, Fairfield Public Schools

Salvatore L. Goncalves

Superintendent, Bloomfield Public Schools

Dr. Ronald G. Taylor

Superintendent of Schools, The School District of South Orange & Maplewood

Roger León

Superintendent, Newark Public Schools

Dr. Gerald Fitzhugh II 

Superintendent, Orange Township Public Schools 

Dr. Matthew Block

Superintendent, Livingston Public Schools

Anthony Grosso

Superintendent, Cedar Grove Public Schools

Dr. J. Scott Cascone

Superintendent, West Orange Public Schools

AbdulSaleem R. Hasan, Ed.S.

Superintendent, East Orange School District

Dr. James M. Pedersen

Superintendent, Essex County Schools of Technology

Deanne Somers

Superintendent, Roseland School District

Michelle V. Gadaleta

Superintendent, Essex Fells School District

Dr. Julie Glazer

Superintendent, Nutley Public Schools

Dr. Laurie W. Newell

Superintendent, Essex Regional Educational Services Commission

Dr. April Vauss

Superintendent, Irvington Public Schools

Dr. Christine Burton

Superintendent, Millburn Township Public Schools

Dr. Jonathan Ponds

Superintendent, Montclair Public Schools


CC: Judith Persichilli, Commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Health

Angelica Allen-McMillan, Acting Commissioner New Jersey Department of Education

Joseph N. DiVincenzo, Essex County Executive

Joseph Zarra, Essex County Superintendent of Schools

Senator Joseph Pennacchio, District 26

Assemblywoman BettyLou DeCroce, District 26

Assemblyman Jay Webber, District 26

Senator Richard J. Codey, District 27

Assemblywoman Mila M. Jasey, District 27

Assemblyman John F. McKeon, District 27

Senator Ronald L. Rice, District 28

Assemblyman Ralph R. Caputo, District 28

Assemblywoman Cleopatra G. Tucker, District 28

Senator M. Teresa Ruiz, District 29

Assemblywoman Eliana Pintor Marin, District 29

Assemblywoman Shanique Speight, District 29

Senator Nia H. Gill Esq., District 34

Assemblyman Thomas P. Giblin, District 34

Assemblywoman Britnee N. Timberlake, District 34

Senator Kristin M. Corrado, District 40

Assemblyman Christopher P. DePhillips, District 40

Assemblyman Kevin J. Rooney, District 40