New Jersey will allow districts to pivot to all-remote learning in the fall, governor says

Less than a month remains before classes begin.

Updated: August 12, 2020 - 2:32pm

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  • a joint statement

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy on Wednesday announced that schools that aren’t equipped to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus will start the school year entirely online. 

According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, Murphy indicated that in-person instruction could resume in areas where coronavirus transmission rates are low and districts have the resources to keep students safe. Public and private schools must submit documentation to the state that they can start school in-person, he said.

"I would not ask parents in Willingboro, for instance, to decide what’s best for schools in East Brunswick, or vice versa," Murphy said. "We recognize for some districts that are legitimate and documentable reasons these health and safety standards cannot be met on day one."

Leaders of the state’s largest teacher union and groups representing school administrators issued a joint statement before the announcement was made calling on Murphy and the state Department of Education to have all New Jersey schools open remotely in the fall over health concerns because of the virus.

"For months, New Jersey educators and administrators have been working tirelessly to find a way to safely bring students back into school buildings in September," the statement read. "Now, with less than a month remaining before schools are scheduled to reopen, it is time to reluctantly acknowledge that goal is simply not achievable. 

“Reopening schools for in-person instruction under the current conditions poses too great a risk to the health of students and schools staff,” the signatories wrote.

Members of the teachers unions in New Jersey said they “fully support and share the governor’s goal of moving to in-person instruction as soon as the science and data say they can do so responsibly and when the resources are available in the school buildings to do it safely.”

The Wednesday announcement follows a previous policy that at least some classes be held in-person with an option for students to attend remotely.


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