The presidents of the school boards in Howell and Jackson said this week they are preparing to comply with Gov. Phil Murphy’s directive to open schools for full-day, in-person instruction in September.
As the coronavirus pandemic wanes, Murphy recently announced that upon the conclusion of the 2020-21 school year, portions of Executive Order 175 allowing remote learning will be rescinded, meaning New Jersey’s school districts will be required to provide full-day, in-person instruction as they were doing prior to the COVID-19 public health emergency that began in March 2020.
“With our health metrics trending decisively in the right direction, the significant progress we have made in our vaccination effort, and vaccines now available to those as young as 12, we are in a position to get our students back into the classroom full-time come fall,” Murphy was quoted as saying in a press release from his office.
“We know there is no substitute for in-person education and know a full opening of our schools is critical to the well-being of our students,” he said.
According to the press release, while school district administrators will be required to fully open buildings beginning at the start of the 2021-22 school year, remote learning will be permitted in the event there is a localized outbreak or another emergency.
If buildings are open for in-person instruction, parents or guardians will not be able to opt out of in-person instruction, according to Murphy.
Howell K-8 School District Board of Education President Mark A. Bonjavanni said the district will be prepared for any regulations that may be imposed by state officials.
“The school district will be prepared to follow the directions set out by Gov. Murphy. We will be prepared to open full-time for a full day in September. There are still questions to be answered … such as (the use of) masks and social distancing, but the district will be prepared for any rules imposed,” Bonjavanni said.
“Each new directive may bring about some changes, but the administration has been and will continue to be ready to implement changes as soon as directives come from the state,” the board president said.
Jackson School District Board of Education President Tara Rivera said Murphy’s announcement was directly in line with plans the district’s administrators were already making to provide full-day, in-person instruction beginning in September.
“We are looking forward to having all of our students back in school full-time for the upcoming school year. The district will be working very hard over the next few months to offer a smooth transition back to full-time learning for our students and families,” she said.
Rivera said comments that have been made during recent school board meetings were in keeping with support for a move back to full-time, in-person instruction.
She said Jackson’s families and staff members will be asked to identify areas of concern as the district’s administrators begin to plan for the complete reopening of the schools.
“We want to hear directly from our families about how they have been impacted so we know how best to help them. We know we need to address learning loss and social-emotional issues that were encountered over the last year and we are committed to doing that,” Rivera said.