"This is not a change of course," said Gov. Phil Murphy Wednesday in announcing that some of New Jersey's schools that can't meet safety standards for reopening can begin the school year in an all-remote fashion.
Schools choosing to reopen with all-remote learning must show plans for satisfying the standards and anticipated date to resume in-person instruction, the governor said.
Joined by state and local education officials, the governor also signed an executive order allowing all New Jersey schools to reopen for in-person classes.
The news comes after nearly 375 teachers in the Elizabeth School District refused to return over COVID-19 fears, prompting the district to submit an all-remote reopening plan due to a teacher shortage.
"When our schools open in September, they must be ready to safely provide the high-quality education to all students that is a hallmark of New Jersey," he said during Wednesday's COVID-19 briefing.
"We know the first day of school is not going to be like any other in our history. We’re fully committed to getting this right."
The school reopening guidelines proposed in June by Murphy's administration said all of New Jersey's 2,500 public schools must offer some in-person classes for the 2020-21 academic year, with an option for all-remote learning available to parents.
The schools that want to open all-remotely must provide the state's education department with reasons why in-person classes are not possible, and how they're going to solve the problems.
Groups representing school administrators and leaders of New Jersey's largest teacher union issued a joint statement calling for an all-remote fall reopening of schools over health concerns.
"Our goal has not changed," Murphy said Wednesday.
"Our commitment to meeting the conditions on the ground with flexibility has not changed. Our focus on protecting students, families, and educators has not changed."
This is a developing story. Check back for more.
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