Princeton Charter School, Lawrence, Hamilton, Trenton, and South Brunswick school districts to begin academic year with remote-learning only (updated)

The Princeton Charter School is the latest school to announce that it will begin the academic year with all students learning remotely. Students will learn remotely for September and October. School officials will continue to evaluate plans as the constantly-changing situation evolves.

“We will monitor the external situation to understand how the safety protocols are working and will review all the epidemiological data,” said Maryellen McQuade, chair of the board at the Princeton Charter School.

McQuade said working to ensure the health and wellness of the community was starting to take away so much focus on the charter school’s commitment to academic standards, that too much was being sacrificed when it comes to academic excellence.

“It gets to the point where you say, do I want my teachers focused on whether we are meeting all the health and safely standards or on delivering the curriculum?” McQuade said.

“We realize this is really hard for parents, and we recognize that children need interaction, especially small children,” McQuade said. “We are looking at creative things we can do to foster that. We also are looking at ways to serve parents who need to go back to work.”

The charter school has changed its online learning platform and hired a consultant over the summer to help teachers enhance virtual instruction and adapt the curriculum to a remote learning environment. School officials are looking at creative ways to create interactions for students, such as offering one-on-one sessions with teachers and opening the school gym for students who need access if their parents must go back to work.

In Hamilton, the 11th largest school district in the state, the school board held an emergency meeting on Saturday and voted to start the school year remotely. The district plans to shift to a hybrid learning model on Oct. 12.

Lawrence officials announced last week that the district would begin the year with remote-only learning. South Brunswick and Trenton have also chosen to start the school year with remote-learning.

“Our strategies for reopening always focused on our primary goals; the safety of our students, staff, and the Trenton community while providing a high-quality education for all students,” Trenton Interim Superintendent Ronald Lee told parents in a letter about the decision to begin the new academic year remotely. District officials are working to make sure every student has a device, he said.

Some school districts are re-evaluating their plans after Gov. Phil Murphy announced last week that school districts that aren’t prepared to open buildings safely can offer remote-only learning in the fall. The following area schools announced earlier this summer that they will offer hybrid learning models: the Princeton Public Schools, the Hopewell Valley Regional Schools, the Ewing Public Schools, the Cranbury Public Schools, the Montgomery Public Schools, the West Windsor Public Schools, the East Windsor Regional School District, and the Robbinsville School District. Parents can still choose a remote-only option in school districts in New Jersey that offer in-person instruction.

The school board for the Princeton Public Schools will hold a Zoom meeting Tuesday night at 7:30 p.m. to approve the district’s reopening plan. Virtual community meetings will then be held on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.


  1. Go ahead teachers, tell us that it is “all about the children”. It is disgraceful these children will not be returning to school. I can’t wait to receive the huge refund check on my property taxes with schools left idle.

    1. James,
      Do you care about the high risk opening schools poses for you and the community? Why not back our teachers and respect them, while keeping them well? As a community, we’ll all benefit.

      Getting an education is not simply about “going” to school, it’s about learning to be a citizen, weighing decisions, and respecting authority. There are important lessons in this for our kids, and remote learning can and does work. Teachers will have opportunities to be creative, and kids may learn to be adaptable and not take an in-person education for granted.

      Show some respect for yourself, and model what it means to be a citizen

  2. I’m grateful that my son’s school district decided on all-remote. It’s too early to tell if we’re going to have a fall spike like many epidemiologists predict and in my view, it is much better to wait and keep the community as safe as possible.

  3. The ethical thing for the Charter school to do is to open its campus to the PPS, while a remote option is offered to its families. The superintendent and the School Board need to address this with the public. The other schools cannot provide adequate social distancing and space is badly needed. This is an opportunity for the Charter School and the PPS to work together.

    1. I thought the interim superintendent just said that PPS cannot open because they don’t have enough staff members willing to come to work. So clearly the “ethical” thing to do is for PPS to open its space to Charter school classes. It is indeed a great opportunity for them to “work together”, for example by hiring more non-union teachers.

      1. The story you are commenting on was published the day before the Princeton superintendent’s announcement. The issue is not space in the Princeton Public Schools. And the public schools are bound by contracts and have tenured teachers. They can’t just replace them.

  4. imagine all the savings for the busing students to and from schools!!!
    On top of that, savings for the electricity, gas ..you name it. It’s a good thing.

    You probably have to be at home with your child staring at the computer screen (if [s]/he has one), and time spent with you kids is priceless. It is a win-win situation….till the election in November.

    To bad residents of Princeton would not see their property tax reduced, but most likely taxes would go up.

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