Although in New Jersey the official handling of the COVID-19 pandemic has generated some confidence in some sectors, not everyone feels safe yet. Particularly, if the health of school children is at stake. That is why Gov. Phil Murphy has guaranteed an option for those parents who do not feel confident about sending their children back to school.
They will have the option to choose all-remote learning when schools reopen this fall, Murphy said Monday.
“The Department of Education will be releasing guidance allowing for parents to choose all-remote learning for their children,” Murphy said during his daily press briefing in Trenton Monday. “Again, the details will be coming out later this week, but we wanted everyone to know now that we will allow for this step.”
He did not provide further details.
“There a lot of moving parts to this,” Murphy said. “We want to get it right. We want to do it responsibly.”
Some teachers are also concerned about the possible health risks of teaching under current conditions. When asked if the remote option would apply to them, Murphy said that wasn’t the general plan, but he said he did not want to predict the plans that will be announced later this week.
“This is going to be focused on kids and parents,” he said. “One of the aspirations put forward by educators has been less density in the classrooms and some capacity limits. If kids are remote learning, that is indirectly addressing capacity and density in the classroom,” Murphy said.
The Education Department released guidance last month on reopening schools. The guidance requires masks on staff and strongly encourages students to wear them unless they have a medical exception, keep social distancing and screen students and staff for symptoms.
However, the department also said districts “should strive to ensure that every student has access to a device and internet connectivity” to engage students in remote learning when necessary.