Some of NJ’s largest school districts to go all-virtual in September
Hours after Gov. Phil Murphy’s announcement that districts will be allowed to start the school with all virtual classes, some of the state's largest school districts made the decision to go in that direction in September.
Murphy adjusted the state's guidelines on Wednesday in response to pressure from the teachers union and school administrators who insist that it is not safe for students and teachers to return classrooms.
"Districts that cannot meet all the health and safety standards for safe in-person instruction will begin their school year in an all-remote fashion," Murphy said Wednesday. "Public school districts will need to spell out their plans for satisfying these unmet standards, and a date by which they anticipate the ability to resume in-person instruction."
The Board of Education in Passaic voted Wednesday night to start school remotely as part of its four-phase Schools Restart and Recovery Plan.
The plan will begin with full time remote learning until at least Oct. 31. School officials will monitor the health and safety conditions and executive orders and determine when to move into Phase 2, which is a hybrid plan with students in classrooms for one session. Parents will still have the option to keep their children in full-time home instruction.
Phase 3 will still be a hybrid plan with a full-day class session. Phase 4 is regular in-person instruction.
The school board in Paterson also approved a plan Wednesday to begin the school year virtually. The district will review the city's heath data on Oct. 15 and decide if some classroom instruction could begin on Nov. 1.
The district is also making arrangements to fill the gap created by a delay in the shipment of 14,000 Chromebooks, according to a Paterson Press report.
Camden school district spokeswoman Alisha Brown said the district changed its plan from hybrid to be completely virtual after families and staff made it clear that "they were not comfortable with in-person instruction."
New Brunswick schools Superintendent Aubrey Johnson announced on Thursday morning that the district's first two marking periods will be virtual.
"We’re going to err on the side of caution and request to begin the year using the remote-learning model that we utilized successfully from March through the end of school in June," Johnson said in a written statement. "There will be instances that in-person instruction will occur for students who require related services that cannot be delivered effectively through virtual instruction."
Other school districts had already made the decision to start the school year virtually but until Murphy's announcement on Wednesday were not clear if they could proceed.
Some districts included an all-virtual plan as one of several possible plans.
All district plans must be approved by the state Department of Education and must include a virtual component if parents do not want their children in a classroom.