A group of New Jersey parents (New Jersey Parents for Virtual Choice) are calling on Governor Phil Murphy to keep the distance learning option despite his “unequivocal” decision to have schools start under the in-person mode.
As reported by Kenneth Burns from WHYY, the parents group wants a virtual option for families with members that are “medically fragile” and would be particularly vulnerable to the delta variant.
“It could be whether you have a child with an underlying medical condition or a family member,” said Deborah Odore, co-founder of the group. “It is your right and your choice whether or not you want to send your child to school in person during a pandemic that is affecting children.”
As of July, the governor said he was not changing his mind in his unequivocal decision that schools start on-time and in-person with no virtual option. He cited a consensus of educators and researchers that said in-person learning was best for children.
Murphy instituted a mask mandate for school buildings earlier this month due to the delta variant and the lack of a vaccine for those 11 and younger.
Thus, according to these government guidelines classes will start in September under the in-person mode. The state Department of Education stated that schools cannot provide daily remote learning except in limited circumstances, like an Individualized Education Program.
You can read: What you need to know about N.J.’s new mask mandate
New Jersey is required to provide instruction to students who cannot attend class due to being quarantined or a temporary health condition. Remote learning will be permitted if there is a localized outbreak or another emergency.
Meanwhile, New Jersey Parents for Virtual Choice have collected more than 10.000 signatures in order to make effective their petition on virtual option.
Odore illustrates the situation with her personal case. Her 10-year-old son is in the autism program and has underlying medical issues. She said if there is no virtual option, she will home-school her kids, but that is not an easy decision to make. Odore explains that her son would lose all of the resources needed to assist him.
Deanna Nye, another co-founder of the group said that a return to in-person learning is not ideal for many families due to the varying medical conditions of some kids and adults. “We’re going to send them into a sardine can, for what to happen,” she asked. “Schools are filled with germs and there are many families that cannot wear masks.”
Despite the strong adjective “unequivocal” employed by Phil Murphy, the parents for the virtual option are confident in the governor’s ability to adapt his decisions to the circumstances dictated by the pandemic.
The Democratic governor has changed his mind before, like he did about his original decision to leave masking rules up to the school districts, or even last year when he did an about-face on virtual learning as school districts decided that they could not do in-person learning.
The group said they do not want to take away the opportunity for in-person learning, but they would like an option for those who are most vulnerable during the pandemic.