TRENTON - New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy announced on Wednesday that public schools that cannot meet coronavirus health and safety standards will begin the academic year remotely.
The first-term Democrat said that school districts must provide a plan that ensures an in-person educational setting will meet the state-mandated COVID-19 safety protocol. Districts must also submit an anticipated date to resume in-person instruction.
"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," Murphy tweeted.
New Jersey's original school reopening plan did not allow an entirely remote learning experience. Instead, the state urged districts to adopt a hybrid model that featured both in-person instruction and virtual learning. The health and safety guidelines that followed included mask-wearing, social distancing and health screenings.
In July, Murphy acted on newly recommended guidance from the state's Department of Education and advocated for an all-remote option and said he would not mandate just one school reopening plan. Murphy said the virtual option provides school districts with the flexibility needed to ensure the health and safety of its community.
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"For the past six weeks, we’ve relied upon the work of local educational communities to determine the best way for their schools to reopen," Murphy tweeted. "We’ve provided significant flexibility while also adjusting expectations based on the latest science and data."
Murphy on Friday also signed an executive order that cleared public and private schools, as well as colleges and universities to reopen for the fall academic year. Coronavirus mitigation protocols must continue to be followed and accommodations must be made for students who opt to learn remotely.
New Jersey announced 484 new positive coronavirus tests on Friday upping the state's total to nearly 186,000. New Jersey also reported nine new virus-related deaths; four of which happened last week and five occurred between mid-July and early August. Over 1,800 people have succumbed to the coronavirus, according to state health officials.
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