By: David J. Detweiler, Writer / Follow South Jersey Child Welfare Intern
BRIDGETON, N.J. — Governor Phil Murphy and the New Jersey Department of Education announced on July 24 that students now have the option to complete their schooling at home this year with full-time remote learning.
Gov. Murphy opened the press conference by explaining how parents of students have pushed for this idea. This option gives students the flexibility they need, but this wasn’t an option before because students couldn’t be guaranteed to have the necessary technology until now. The CARES Act has provided the state with the funds needed to give the 230,000 students who need internet and technology the required materials to learn remotely.
Murphy detailed how this option will decrease the density of schools, which will ease the difficulty to social distance properly. The governor mentioned afterward that decisions are being made in real-time, and the state is reacting based on the progress of this pandemic.
NJDOE interim commissioner Kevin Dehmer followed New Jersey’s governor with more information on the announcement. He began by highlighting that full-time online education is available to all students in the state. Every student needs to be notified of this opportunity in their respective language.
Students taking up this offer will receive the same quality of education — including attendance and length of school days — as students learning in-person or through hybrid learning. Schools also need to provide students with a plan to transition back to the classroom when the time comes. The Department of Education is expecting to receive data on the participation of students in this program via school districts.
Chief policy advisor Zakiya Smith-Ellis gave her thoughts on this news and how the NJDOE is making decisions based on current events.
“We are responding in real-time […] as we get updated information, we are updating our guidance,” Smith-Ellis said. “This is an example of us being responsive to concerns that we heard from families, and this gives families the option to choose what they believe is best for their child. I’m really thankful for the Department of Education for pulling something together like this.”
You can watch the hour-long press conference in its entirety here.
Thanks to Governor Murphy and the NJDOE, parents and students now have the opportunity to make the decision that’s best for them.
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This article was produced by a Follow South Jersey news intern thanks to a grant provided by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation through the New Jersey Health Initiatives program to create hyper-local news to meet the informational and health needs of the City of Bridgeton, N.J.