Governor Murphy announced on May 17th that he has signed Executive Order #175 – allowing all New Jersey students to return to full-time in-person classes starting with the 2021-2022 school year (next fall).
Full-time remote learning will no longer be an option for “most families,” according to the order. Parents will not be enabled to opt out of in-person learning in the coming fall season.
The official New Jersey website reports that the majority of schools are open in some form for in-person instruction, whether it be full-time or part-time. However, with the new ordinance in place, every New Jersey-based school must reopen and be in accordance with the health and safety guidelines outlined in the state’s reopening guidance.
The Department of Health recommends full in-person instruction with a minimum of three feet of social distancing between students is maintained in classrooms for elementary schools across low, moderate, and high risk and for middle/high school when the region is in low and moderate risk level. “Strict adherence to mask-wearing should be enforced at all times across all grades and risk levels,” the ordinance states.
It’s noted that this may be a challenge for some schools, as they need to prepare and ensure that the safety standards are adhered to before they open their doors to students once again.
“If a district can’t meet the standards currently, they must submit a plan and timeline for when they can meet these standards,” the ordinance continued.
On February 19, 2021, Governor Murphy announced “The Road Forward,” a series of coordinated policy initiatives that dramatically expand the Administration’s efforts to identify and address the academic and mental health impacts of COVID-19 on New Jersey students and educators. As part of this coordinated initiative, $1.2 billion in federal COVID-19 relief funds will be made available to school districts, including through grants dedicated specifically to research-based instructional and mental health interventions.
For full details, additional updates, and supplemental guidance, refer to the Department of Education’s reopening guidance.