New Jersey school buildings have been closed for three weeks as the state deals with the devastating coronavirus pandemic, leaving most students to use the internet to continue their class work.

According to Education Commissioner Lamont Repollet, 70% of schools districts across the Garden State report 90% of their students have online access and steps are being taken to make sure the other students can also do school work using the internet.

Repollett said some districts are providing free internet services to certain families, while others have launched public-private partnerships to boost internet access, and some are working with local public libraries to offer internet connections.


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Repollet said of the state’s 1.4 million public school students, 110,000 can’t access the internet where they live, and nearly 155,000 students don’t have access to a device.

“Pen-and=paper packets go home every month, kids give them back, they have their books, they have book reports, so there are various tools you can actually use," he said Tuesday. "Online is just one tool.”

He said the reports he’s received indicate this system is working.

“I’m very pleased with where we are. I mean, in 20 days we asked them to go from a brick-and-mortar school to a virtual-learning school, so you know there’s going to be challenges,” he said.

He said in some situations it’s also difficult for parents to adequately monitor their children.

“We’re seeing some of those challenges but we’re also looking at some innovative approaches that our districts are using, whether it’s looking at YouTube, whether it’s the partnership that the state has — the Department of Education and NJTV (to air local educational programming every morning)."

Gov. Phil Murphy said, all things considered, the remote learning system is working quite well.

“We’ve never done this before," he said Tuesday.

You can contact reporter David Matthau at David.Matthau@townsquaremedia.com