Businesses should take this opportunity to create a new normal for employees

Posted May 12, 2020

By Marya Doerfel

The global disruption of “normal” caused by COVID-19 may reveal things that should change and must change - like making workdays shorter, workloads lighter and ending disproportional executive pay, Rutgers' Marya Doerfel says.

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Telecommuting from home appears to be a straightforward way to adapt to the COVID-19 quarantines while largely staying the course. Or is it?

Resilience is about staying the course. People are resilient, in part, because they continue to work. Businesses are resilient because employees continue to do their jobs despite chaos and uncertainty. In a way, responsibilities “pull workers through” crises. Businesses and nonprofits are resilient because workers “push the organizations through” disruption. When organizations continue to be productive, they feed into community resilience. Those who work fuel our society enabling communities to get through this together.

Yet this pressure to continue working can be emotionally and physically exhausting. This global crisis is generating stress from social isolation and heightened uncertainty. Challenges are especially poignant for families with small children, for people at high risk, for those whose family members need extra care, for people who lack technology in their homes, and for people who are simply freaked out.

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N.J. lawmakers urge Murphy to increase staffing to handle unemployment backlog

Posted May 11, 2020

The leaders of the state Senate on Monday released a letter urging the governor to devote more state employees and resources to reduce the backlog of New Jersey workers suffering while waiting for unemployment benefits.

More than a million workers have applied for unemployment benefits in the Garden State, and while 721,000 are receiving benefits, hundreds of thousands more are not.

The state has seen an unprecedented surge in unemployment claims since mid-March, when businesses statewide were ordered to close their doors or dramatically curtail their services to slow the spread of the coronavirus. Since then, people who found themselves without a job have complained of waiting more than a month for benefits or running up against an overwhelmed online application system and call centers.

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How the Pandemic Has Transformed the College Experience and Could Transform It Even More

SHEILA NOONAN | MAY 12, 2020

NJ Spotlight

Online learning has been the order of the day for William Paterson University students, and students at other NJ colleges, since mid-March.

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Colleges change with the times. New Jersey’s colonial theological seminaries are today’s leading research universities; its teacher training colleges expanded to liberal arts; and an education once reserved for white wealthy males is now open to all.

Higher education is on the cusp of another transformation, but not for occupational or societal reasons: the drivers this time are a coronavirus pandemic that sent students home for virtual learning and a gutted economy some fear might keep them there.

Three overarching factors could shape this transformation: whether in-person classes resume this fall; if they do, how new social-distancing rules will change classrooms, scheduling, dormitories and transportation; and colleges’ and families’ financial status. A fourth X-factor: students and parents, and how they’ll react to changes in the college experience or potentially, ongoing pandemic-related restrictions.

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Another American lynching, buried beneath a racist criminal justice system | Editorial

We hold this truth to be self-evident: The murder of Ahmaud Arbery was a lynching — to use Bryan Stevenson’s definition, as a racially-motivated act of violence committed by two or more people where there was no accountability — and it only takes one careful viewing of the Feb. 23 shooting on video to label it as such.

But what makes it more terrifying is that an elected law enforcement official in 21st century Georgia — a state that has had 594 documented lynchings between 1877 and 1950 — gave it his official endorsement after watching footage of this murder with impunity more than two months ago.

Clearly, without the videotape that went viral Tuesday, there would have been no attempt at justice, and it was only Thursday night that charges were finally brought. If not for this gargantuan mess of a truth bomb being posted on a radio station website — incandescent evidence that even Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp called “absolutely horrific” — this case would still be nailed shut.

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Unanimous Board Vote Makes It Official: Repollet Moving to Kean University

JOHN MOONEY | MAY 12, 2020

NJ Spotlight

Education Commissioner Lamont Repollet at an early briefing on the state response to the coronavirus.

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After two years, Lamont Repollet will be leaving the post as New Jersey’s education commissioner to become president of Kean University, a move that takes him from today’s unprecedented challenges in K-12 education to maybe even steeper ones in higher education.

Kean University’s board of trustees voted without dissent last night to appoint Repollet to the president’s position, replacing retiring president Dawood Farahi. The board said Repollet would start at the end of June.

The appointment had been in the works for months, with Repollet’s potential move an open secret since word got out in February that he — himself a former Kean trustee — was a finalist for the $360,000-a-year college presidency.

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The Electoral Math That Will Give the Democrats US Senate Control

By Alan Steinberg | May 10, 2020

Insider NJ

US Senator Bob Menendez

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On April 19, 2020, I authored an InsiderNJ column, “A Democratic Wave Election is Coming this November.”  In this column, I predicted a national Democratic “Blue Wave” landslide in November that would result in the election of Democrat Joe Biden for president, the retention by the Democrats of control of the US House of Representatives, and the Democrats gaining of control of the US Senate.

https://www.insidernj.com/democratic-wave-election-coming-this-november/

I want to apologize to my readers for vastly understating the extent of the Democratic landslide to come this November.  This will not be a blue wave – this will be a blue tsunami, resulting from a horrific downturn in the gross domestic product (GDP) in the second quarter of this year, exceeding 35 percent.   In addition, there are forecasts that unemployment can rise in the second quarter to 25 percent.

This economic crash will eliminate any chance Donald Trump has of being reelected.  In the words of the venerable Democratic sage, James Carville.  It’s the economy, stupid!

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The truth about Murphy’s reopening plan | Editorial

Posted May 10, 2020

Spring is here, and Gov. Phil Murphy’s stir-crazy constituents are clamoring for a return to normalcy.

As he’s begun carefully loosening some of his lockdown restrictions, starting with the parks and golf courses, everyone is wondering: What’s next? In some respects, we’re doing well.

Phase 1 is successful social distancing, and it’s clearly helping to contain the virus, with new hospitalizations trending downward in our state.

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South Jersey Food Handout Highlights Growing Demand from the Newly Unemployed

JON HURDLE | MAY 11, 2020 

NJ Spotlight

Larry Skvir, a volunteer from Delran, loads a box of produce into a waiting car in Mount Laurel on Friday.

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Near the head of a line of more than 400 cars in a Mount Laurel parking lot, Jessica Kuzinksi and her son Dylan waited patiently for the start of one of the state’s biggest food handouts since the coronavirus pandemic began.

More than 1,000 boxes of fresh produce and nonperishable goods were being made available by the Food Bank of South Jersey in response to a growing need driven by almost two months of business closures and more than 1 million new jobless claims since mid-March.

After about two hours waiting in the drizzle on Friday morning, the cars edged toward a line of masked volunteers who loaded boxes into trunks and back seats while the drivers, also masked, remained in their vehicles, as instructed, in an effort to avoid any spread of COVID-19.

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Cory Booker calls for EMS responders to receive hazard pay in next stimulus package

Posted May 08, 2020

U.S. Senator Cory Booker, D-N.J., spent much of his time Friday during a conference call with New Jersey emergency medical services responders saluting their service for treating pre-hospitalized coronavirus patients.

“To put it simply, there is just no way we could make it through this pandemic without (EMS responders)," he said.

But Booker conceded verbal bouquets are not what EMS responders need right now.

They need financial support, he said.

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What will N.J. schools look like when they reopen? 4 experts weigh in.

Posted May 08, 2020

With New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy ordering schools to close for the rest of the 2019-2020 academic year, parents, guardians and students are asking themselves what an eventual reopening would look like as the uncertainty of the coronavirus pandemic plays out.

The simple answer is, who knows? The outbreak has thrown curveballs at our daily routines, and how normalcy returns is the million-dollar question. State officials have been preparing for the next steps based on the latest data and trends on coronavirus infections.

With more than 1.3 million students across the Garden State, the mission to reopen schools won’t be easy. But state officials say they plan to do the best they can with whatever resources are provided.

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