New Jersey schools prepare to teach kids at home if coronavirus outbreak worsens

New Jersey's education commissioner is urging the state's schools and childcare facilities to prepare for things to get worse in connection with COVID-19, which may include shutting down schools and teaching kids at home.

In a letter to school administrators, the commissioner urged schools and daycares to heed the New Jersey Department of Health's coronavirus guidance, which advises that "schools may be asked to close preemptively or reactively, therefore schools should be making plans for what to do if there are recommendations for closing schools or cancelling events."

Officials in New Jersey are urging community leaders to not delay making contingency plans for a worsening public health crisis. The World Health Organization has not yet declared the coronavirus outbreak a global pandemic but the CDC fully expects it to become one.

"To prepare for possible community transmission of COVID-19, the most important thing for schools to do now is plan and prepare," the Health Department said in its online guidance. "As the global outbreak evolves, schools should prepare for the possibility of community-level outbreaks. Schools want to be ready if COVID-19 does appear in their communities. Encourage students and employees to stay home when they are sick."

In his letter to administrators, Education Commissioner Lamont Repollet said all board of education should develop a school-closure plan that includes home instruction.

"The planned services should include equitable access to instruction for all students," he wrote in the letter. "Each preparedness plan should also address the provision of appropriate special education and related services for students with disabilities and the provision of school nutrition benefits or services for eligible students."

Read the NJDOH COVID-19 guidance here.

Read more COVID-19 news coverage here.


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