Districts that cannot meet state Department of Education standards will have the option of going completely remote, Governor Phil Murphy will announce today at his daily COVID-19 briefing. The governor’s decision largely leaves the issue in the hands of local districts as New Jersey continues to grapple with the COVID-19 crisis.
Today’s briefing comes after weeks of speculation about a statewide plan and pressure from the New Jersey Education Association (NJEA) on the governor to simply shut down in-person learning.
Key districts are already preparing for an all-remote plan, among them Jersey City and the City of Trenton.
It’s not blanket remote learning for everyone. There will be conditions. Districts will have to put a plan in place.
Bottom line: the decision gives leeway to decision-making on the district level.
Murphy already announced plans to give individual families the option of going remote.
The expectation, given the virus and expectations for a spike come colder weather as the new positivity rate for COVID hovers at just under 500, is that districts will ultimately all go remote.
Murphy’s announcement today will occur against the backdrop of increased behind-the-scenes grumbling about a circus-like atmosphere around the Murphy Administration’s plan – or lack thereof – for schools. But the decision-making process also reveals the depth of New Jersey’s jagged haves and have nots culture, especially when it comes to educating children.
Politico NJ has more on this developing story here.
In his Wednesday afternoon COVID-19 press briefing, Murphy detailed his decision, starting with the positive by formally “clearing both our pre-k through 12 schools [and colleges] to reopen for the upcoming academic year for in-person instruction.”
In response to the announcement by Governor Phil Murphy that school districts will be given the option to conduct all-remote learning at the start of the 2020-2021 school year with approval from the New Jersey Department of Education, Assemblywoman Mila Jasey (D-27), who championed legislation to allow remote learning in schools this fall, released the following statement:
“I recognize that every district faces challenges unique to their schools and their communities. In-person instruction, while ideal, will simply not be possible, or advisable, in every district.
“I applaud Governor Murphy’s decision to permit every school district the ability to proceed with remote-only instruction in order to put safety first. I am confident that the Department of Education will act favorably upon all requests for remote learning. Since educators are not public health professionals, I believe a signoff from the Department of Health should also be required before any in-person schooling plan is approved.
“Finally, for reasons of equity, unity and safety, I ask the Governor to consider a delayed start for all school districts, enabling teachers the opportunity to secure the professional development necessary to deliver quality remote instruction. Likewise, it is therefore imperative that we immediately close the digital divide by ensuring that every student has a device and internet connectivity to fully access learning.
“New Jersey’s public schools are the best in the nation, and the pandemic has in no way altered our commitment to delivering a high quality education to every New Jersey student.”