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NJ Lawmakers Introduce Bill to Require Upcoming K-12 School Year to Begin With All-Remote Learning Amid COVID-19

“Out of concern for the health and safety of students, teachers and their families while New Jersey continues to grapple with COVID-19,” Assembly Democrats Mila Jasey, Pamela Lampitt and Joann Downey plan to introduce legislation to require school districts to provide virtual or remote instruction during the beginning of the 2020-2021 school year.

“The reality is the pandemic isn’t over. School is set to begin in just a few weeks, and it is not clear that a safe and comfortable environment can be maintained for students and staff,” said Jasey (D-Essex, Morris), chair of the Assembly Higher Education Committee. “As a former Board of Education member and a public health nurse, I understand that New Jersey has made strong progress in combating COVID-19, but reopening schools for in-person instruction would feel like a step backward at this time.”

Under the proposed bill, public schools would begin the 2020-2021 school year with solely virtual or remote instruction, with the exception of special education and related services that must be delivered in person. Beginning October 31, 2020, reopening schools for in-person instruction would be evaluated on a monthly basis by the Governor, in consultation with the Commissioner of Education and the Commissioner of Health. Reopening would be contingent upon a number of factors, including New Jersey’s phased reopening and public health data on the spread of COVID-19. School districts would develop guidelines and plans for in-person instruction that adhere to public health guidance.

Additionally, under the proposed measure, school districts may delay the start of the 2020-2021 school year by up to two weeks from the district’s regular start date. If a district chooses this option, it must conduct professional development for teachers on delivering virtual or remote instruction.

“We’ve heard from school administrators, medical professionals, educators, students, and parents on school reopening, and the common sentiment being expressed is the same – our schools lack the guidance and support needed to safely reopen,” said Lampitt (D-Camden, Burlington), chair of the Assembly Education Committee. “In-person learning, without a doubt, produces the best educational outcome for students and we are all eager to return to the classroom. However, until we can ensure the safety of our students and school staff, we must focus our efforts on how we can enhance remote and virtual learning to provide students with the highest quality education possible.”

“No one can deny the benefits of in-person instruction, especially for our younger students. However, the safety of our children must always come first,” said Downey (D-Monmouth), chair of the Assembly Human Services Committee. “We also must keep in mind our valued teachers, many of whom have health concerns or fear bringing the virus home to their families. We can’t predict how the virus will impact New Jersey this fall, but we do know it will likely be complicated by flu and allergy season. For the safety of all, our best course of action is to focus our efforts on improving remote instruction, closing the digital divide and keeping our students safe.”

Also, under the bill, school districts may hold outdoor events for students, teachers and parents to meet one another and foster relationships during the remote learning period. These events must comply with State and federal health and safety guidelines for COVID-19.

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There are 6 Comments to "NJ Lawmakers Introduce Bill to Require Upcoming K-12 School Year to Begin With All-Remote Learning Amid COVID-19"

  • Sorakat says:

    Crazy!! These democrats are doing whatever they can to destroy the country!!

  • Aguda Supporter says:

    Agudah we need youur help. please fight this tooth and nail

  • Bd says:

    It says public schools, not non- publics

  • A Lang says:

    B”H

    I do not understand the opposition to the public schools opening on a modified AB schedule. I would suggest to get to work on making your position known if you want the non-public schools out of the bill. It is about time the legislature weighed in.

    Despite overwhelming public opinion in Lakewood to open at full capacity the will of the majority will not prevail in this case. Take note of this lesson in American pluralism.

    BTW

    The (acting) Commissioner of Education mentioned in this article is Keven Dehmer. The following excepts in the court transcripts illustrate the utter lack of a plan for Lakewood short of a legislative change in the formula.

    How will the DOE handle the $62 million Lakewood needs this year ?

    Mr. Dahmer: “So there’s a plan laid out by the State monitor, which I believe my deputy could speak in more detail about. . . . [T]he monitor has a — has a plan that’s required in order to plan to move the District ahead.” (T7 120-23 to 121-18).

    I had already called the monitors to the stand on behalf of the petitioners in February 2018.

    David Shafter: “[A] formula so that some portion of those [nonpublic] students could be counted as a percentage, in order to — in planning the adequacy budget. And the local fair share would be deducted from that. And that would be an –That would be what the State aid would be.” (DS T5 93-9 to 14).

    Michael Azzara: “They need more revenue. We’re — If it
    comes from the taxpayers or it comes from the State, that’s really a
    question for the legislature and the courts, not me. I mean, I would
    assume that it would come from the State because the District is
    tapped for its property tax.” (T5 129-21 to 130- 3).

    So the monitors got it right. As for the Department’s plan that Mr. Dehmer thought his “deputy could speak in more detail about,” it simply does not exist.

    Judge Scarola: “[I[f there’s any end game here, without continually raising the amount that Lakewood gets. Assuming everything stayed the same.”

    Glenn Forney, Deputy Assistant Commissioner of Finance “We’re just going by year by year at this point.” (T10 GF 146-3 to 6).

    There is no plan.

    Recall that the legislature took out the $30 million for Lakewood proposed by the governor from the appropriations bill last year. Sen. Sweeney publicly said that nobody from the DOE explained to him the issue in Lakewood. Make sense. (I could not introduce this $30 million fiasco since the record was closed as to the 2019-20 year).

  • Tzvi says:

    What? Why is day camp allowed to be open but all of a sudden we need to stop in person schedules when school starts? This makes no sense!

  • whisleblower says:

    Kekst survey says: Most regular Americans think that 9% of all Americans have died of Covid-19.