NEW JERSEY - NJ Gov. Phil Murphy announced an executive order Wednesday allowing school districts to start the academic year in an all-remote learning environment.
"School districts that cannot meet all health and safety standards for safe in-person instruction will begin their school year with all-remote learning," said Murphy during a news briefing on the coronavirus pandemic.
Schools that can meet the standards are required to offer in-person classes. Any school that begins the school year entirely remotely, must define the dates as to when in-person instruction would resume.
The announcement comes after officials in Elizabeth and Jersey City announced they would start the school year remotely. Elizabeth education officials pointed to a lack of teachers willing to return to the classroom. In Jersey City, the second-largest school district in the state which is averaging 8-10 COVID-19 cases a day, Mayor Steven Fulop said the schools did not have enough personal protective equipment.
"Anything can really upset the momentum we have created in a positive direction," Fulop told FOX 5 morning program, 'Good Day New York.' For me, it is not worth the risk. Putting children in jeopardy, I don't see the benefit to that."
On June 26, Gov. Murphy said schools would reopen in September as the state continued to battle the coronavirus pandemic. It would be up to the individual districts to formulate a plan under the guidelines provided by the Dept. of Education.
Last month, the governor further added to the plans and said any parent in the state that wanted to keep the child home for virtual learning could do so.
New Jersey is in the second of three reopening phases. Questions remain as to whether it is safe to reopen the schools next month.
For most people, the virus causes mild or moderate symptoms. Older adults and people with existing health problems are at higher risk of more severe illness or death.
Evidence suggests young children don’t spread the disease very easily, while kids aged 10 and up may transmit as easily as adults. But experts say more conclusive proof is needed.
And even though children appear less likely to get infected than adults, and less likely to become seriously ill when they do, severe cases and deaths have occurred.