New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy on Wednesday signed an executive order authorizing pre-K through grade 12 schools, colleges, and universities in the state to reopen for the upcoming academic year.
“As many of our colleges and universities have continued offering classes during the summer, in-person instruction may fully resume immediately, should institutions so desire, and so long as social distancing measures — among other protections — are strictly adhered to,” Murphy said. “Any student who chooses to continue remote learning must be accommodated. We have held ongoing discussions with the leaders throughout the higher education system, and they are ready for this step.”
Murphy said state officials have been working with school districts across New Jersey to make sure all students and staff can learn safely.
“Not only will this not be a normal school year, furthermore there is no one-size-fits-all plan for this very difficult situation,” Murphy said. “We are home to nearly 600 public school districts, plus charter and renaissance schools, plus non-public and parochial schools, and other specialized places of learning. Each one faces its own unique challenges, serves a unique community, and has its own unique character…We have relied upon the work of local educational communities to determine the best way for their schools to reopen. We have provided significant flexibility, including providing parents and guardians with the option to choose all-remote learning for their students…At every twist and turn in the road, we are ready to listen and accommodate.”
For some school districts, health and safety standards can’t be met at the start of the school year, Murphy said. Public and non-public schools must certify that they are able to meet the health and safety standards to resume in-person instruction. Districts that can’t meet all the health and safety standards for safe in-person instruction must begin the school year offering all-remote instruction. Those districts must submit plans to the state detailing how and when they will satisfy the unmet standards and begin offering in-person learning.
All students in New Jersey must wear face coverings in schools unless there is a medical reason for a student not to wear a face mask.