Gov. Murphy Requires All Schools to Reopen for 2020-21 Academic Year, Remote Learning Allowed in Some Cases

By: David J. Detweiler, Writer / Follow South Jersey Child Welfare Intern

Photo: Jon Bradley | Follow South Jersey

BRIDGETON, N.J. — Governor Phil Murphy and Department of Education Interim Commissioner Kevin Dehmer announced that all schools are required to open this fall with the release of Executive Order 175.

Executive Order 175 says that the NJDOE must verify school districts for following the instructions detailed in the “Road Back” plan before resuming in-person instruction. Any district that is unable to meet the standards placed is required to provide remote education for all of their students. Even if districts are allowed to let students back into their institutions, they must provide remote learning to any student whose guardian requests it. Districts are also expected to provide meals on remote-learning days to all students who partake in the National School Lunch and Breakfast Programs.

Gov. Murphy explained the process of including feedback from districts around the state in their plans to reopen schools.

“Since releasing our guidance on reopening, we have continued to have frequent discussions with stakeholders and educators across the state. Many districts have expressed that meeting critical health and safety criteria by the first day of school is proving to be a challenge,” he said. “While we continue to believe that there is no substitute for being in the classroom, allowing districts to delay the implementation of in-person instruction will give them the time and flexibility they need to ensure buildings are ready and welcoming when they do open.”

East Brunswick’s school district, for example, has been verified by the state to open their schools for in-person instruction. Superintendent Dr. Victor Valeski, explained how hybrid learning will still be the approach his district will take this fall.

“While a return to full-time in-person instruction is not possible for East Brunswick Public Schools, we are confident that the hybrid plan we are offering our students will ensure that all students, regardless of where they will be during the school day, receive a high-quality education,” Valeski said.

Willingboro is an excellent example of a district that isn’t quite prepared for in-class learning this fall. Superintendent of Willingboro Public Schools Dr. Neely Hacket announced the district’s plan and timeline for returning all students to classrooms.

“As a community committed to providing Willingboro students with an education grounded in 21st century thinking and learning, we remain committed and will work toward taking every necessary step to prepare our buildings, students, staff, and parents for in-person learning for the start of the second marking period,” Hackett said.

Bridgeton Public Schools was already expecting children to return to class for the start of the school year, but the district announced last Tuesday that all instruction will be delivered remotely from Tuesday, September 8 until a prospective reopening date of Tuesday, October 13. Even then, only 25% of students will attend in-person classes per day during the first phase of Bridgeton’s hybrid learning reopening model. which you can find more details on here.

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.