NJ Schools May Resume In-Person Instruction, with Option to go All-Remote

Gov. Phil Murphy today signed an executive order allowing pre-K through 12 schools and colleges and universities to officially open for the upcoming academic year.

Murphy said that in-person instruction may fully resume immediately, should institutions desire, so long as social distancing and other requirements are strictly adhered to. He added that any student who wishes to continue with remote-learning must be accommodated.

“There is no one-size-fits-all plan to this very difficult situation,” Murphy said. “We have provided significant flexibility including providing parents and guardians with the option to choose all remote learning for their students, while also adjusting expectations based on the latest science and data.” 

The Department of Education has put forward guidelines that, according to Murphy, put a premium on the health and safety of students and staff while allowing in-person instruction to resume.

Both public and on-pubic schools must certify to the Department of Education that they are able to meet the health and safety standards necessary to resume in person instruction.

“We recognize that for some districts there are legitimate and documentable reasons why some of these core health and safety standards can not be met on day-one,” Murphy said.

Districts that can not meet strict health and safety guidelines for in-person instruction will begin their school year in an all-remote fashion. According to Murphy, school districts will need to spell out plans for satisfying unmet standards “in a date by which they anticipate the ability to resume in-person instruction.”

Supreme Court Rules NJ Can Borrow Federal Money

Separately, the New Jersey Supreme Court today rendered a unanimous decision to allow the state to borrow up to $9.9 billion in federal funding to offset state revenue losses caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I am grateful for this decision,” Murphy said. “This means that when I present our new budget for FY2021 in roughly two-weeks, our schools can be funded, our residents and communities can be protected, and our state can move forward.”

All borrowing requests must be approved by a committee of four lawmakers.

Murphy said that even with the supreme court’s decision, he is not “declaring victory,” stating that “there is still a long road to travel.”

“We still need the federal government to step up and provide assistance for us and fellow states,” he said.

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