KIYC: About 1 in 5 New Jersey school districts intent to start school year all-remotely
About 130 New Jersey school districts, or about one in five, now intend to open the school year offering only remote classes to students and the number continues to steadily increase each day.
Kane In Your Corner reviewed revised reopening plans and communications on websites for every school district in New Jersey. As of midday Friday, 22% of non-charter districts had revised or announced intentions to revise their reopening plans to switch to all-remote education to begin the school year, due to safety concerns.
The vast majority of districts making the switch said they intend to reopen to hybrid schedules in either October or November, although some gave proposed reopening dates as late as 2021. All revisions must be approved by the state.
The Clifton School District is one of several districts that opted to go virtual at Board of Education meetings Thursday night.
"I have to be very honest with this board and the community: I don’t know what the right answer is," Superintendent Danny Robertozzi said. "I don’t know if there is a right answer."
Gov. Phil Murphy opened the door to remote-only instruction last week. Before that, all districts were required to offer at least some in-classroom instruction. At Wednesday's coronavirus briefing, the governor warned districts that applications to offer only remote learning will not automatically be approved.
"Any resubmitted plans to begin the school year with all-remote learning must cite specific health and safety reasons for the change which district leaders must certify to, as well as a timeline to get to an in-person instruction," the governor said.
Whether districts opt out of in-classroom instruction depends greatly on geography,
In four of the state's most sparsely populated counties -- Salem, Cape May, Warren and Sussex -- only one district, Phillipsburg, had announced plans to begin the year with all-remote instruction as of early Friday.
But more than 75% of the districts in densely populated Hudson County intend to offer remote-only instruction. So do more than half of all districts in Middlesex County.
One group that remains united in its opinion: the New Jersey Education Association, which is calling on the state to begin the year with all-remote learning.
Some mental health experts, however, have expressed concerns about how kids might be impacted by continued remote learning, saying it could lead to a rise in depression.
As of midday Friday, districts whose websites indicate they intend to offer all-remote instruction to start the year include:
Egg Harbor Township
Bergen County Special Services District
Rancocas Valley Regional
Cape May County:
Cumberland County Tech Education Center
Stow Creek Township
Upper Deerfield Township
Hudson County Schools of Technology
West New York
Mercer County Special Services School District
Boonton Public Schools