Remote learning will be an option for some school kids in the fall.

Last week, when Gov. Phil Murphy announced a return to in-class learning in the fall, he left no wiggle room. "We are expecting Monday through Friday, in person, every school, every district," Murphy said at last Wednesday's state pandemic briefing when asked about a return to "normal" classes by September.

Murphy said he wanted no ambiguity, and unless "the world goes sideways," families would not have an option to keep students remote in the next school year.

Now, Murphy says districts will still have a remote option available.

Speaking on News 12 New Jersey on Tuesday, Murphy offered a clarification, saying, "I did not intend to include folks who have some immunity or some other issue with their health where that could put them at risk.”

The governor says an exemption will be provided for both teachers and students whose health and safety would be put at risk by attending in-person classes.  Although Murphy says he will let individual districts deal with exemption, his administration will offer guidance.

Murphy told Fox 29 Philadelphia on Wednesday: "If someone has a health condition that puts their life at risk clearly we need to be respectful of that," but "the bar will be pretty high,” and not as simple as just generally "not feeling comfortable" going into a school building.

Murphy said he would leave the decisions and logistics up to individual districts. However, the governor did make clear he expects the exceptions to be limited, "and unless you've got some sort of health challenge of one sort or the other, we fully expect we're in business for school."

The New Jersey Education Association has not fully endorsed Murphy's return to school plan in the fall. They have continually raised safety concerns as more districts moved to in-person learning over the last few months. An NJEA spokesman told New Jersey 101.5, "There is good reason to be hopeful that conditions by that time (September) will allow schools to safely and responsibly open for in-person instruction."

School has been a relatively safe place to be during the pandemic. State health officials report 205 COVID-19 outbreaks in school involving fewer than 1,000 students, teachers and staff. That's a small fraction of the millions of pupils and staff working and learning in New Jersey school buildings.

The number of schools offering some in-person learning has been steadily increasing. Only 90 districts remain all remote; 143 districts are open for all in-person instructions; 534 have implemented some form of hybrid learning. More schools are planning to move away from an all virtual schedule with the state reducing social distancing rules from 6 feet to 3and more teachers getting fully vaccinated.

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