Gov. Murphy approves some schools to start with all-remote option

Gov. Phil Murphy says schools that cannot meet health and safety guidelines for an in-person start to the academic year can go with an all-remote option.

News 12 Staff

Aug 13, 2020, 9:52 AM

Updated 1,346 days ago

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Gov. Phil Murphy says schools that cannot meet health and safety guidelines for an in-person start to the academic year can go with an all-remote option.
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The news comes just weeks before the start of the new academic year.
The governor has cleared the state's 600 public and private schools to reopen for in-person learning this fall if they can meet the Department of Education's health and safety guidelines. According to state leaders, the goal to have as many schools reopen for in-person learning as possible, and that schools can't just choose to have all classes be online.
"It's something unknown," says Sandra Cortes, of Edison. "People don't know exactly what path they can follow."
Schools can request to start the year with no in-person classes if they cannot meet the guidelines. For this, districts must tell the state their plans to meet the criteria to open and a date they think they can begin welcoming students back.
"We recognize that for some districts, there are legitimate and documentable reasons why some of these core health and safety standards can't be met on day one,” says Gov. Murphy. “So, for these districts today we are reaffirming our commitment to provide the flexibility for our districts to do what is best for their school community."
"I think we should continue going virtual,” says Nroth Brunswick High School Senior Haley Koprowski. “I just don't think it's a good idea at all, especially with the teachers. That's a concern to because they could get sick."
The ability for some schools to start entirely remotely is a change from the governor’s June guidance, which required all schools to have in-person instruction.
Gov. Murphy approved an option for parents in July to request all-remote learning for their children. Wednesday’s decision means some school districts can begin with just virtual learning. It’s unclear how many districts that would entail. Officials say a majority of districts will still be offering a mix.
Executive Director of the Newark Trust for Education Ronald Chaluisán says the digital divide continues to play a part if schools continue virtual learning.
"I think there are two component pieces on the digital divide,” says Chaluisán. “One is the device itself that a student has access to and the second is the conductivity that the family has access to people with a household that have to access the Internet."
On the other hand, Chaluisán says there were cases last spring where students who were connected thrived in the virtual environment since they no longer had to deal with social issues that may have affected them negatively.       
Gov. Murphy says more detailed school reopening guidelines will be released later today.

AP wire services helped contribute to this report.


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