Posted Monday, May 4th, 2020
The Governor, in his daily briefing this afternoon, called it a “difficult decision,” knowing that many students, parents, teachers, and staff held out hope to be able to get back to their classrooms.
“However, I have been unwavering on the message that we need to make decisions based on science, not emotion,” said Gov. Murphy, “While New Jersey is making great strides in mitigating the spread of COVID-19, science tells us that at this point, we can’t safely re-open our schools.”
The Governor initially ordered schools in the state closed on March 18, with remote education to continue until at least May 15. Now, with today’s announcement, all schools will continue education online through the end of this school year.
A decision on school summer programs and Extended School Year services for students with disabilities will be forthcoming.
PRESS RELEASE FROM GOVERNOR’S OFFICE
Citing the need to protect the health of New Jersey’s 1.6 million public and private school students as well as thousands of educators and support staff, Governor Phil Murphy today announced that statewide school closures will be extended through the end of the 2019-2020 academic year. Private schools with longer academic years will remain closed until at least June 30.
While the prohibition of in-person instruction will be maintained through the end of the school year, public schools will continue to provide remote learning for students to allow districts to meet the state-required minimum of 180 instruction days.
“This is a difficult decision and I know that many students, parents, and staff would like to be able to return to school,” said Governor Murphy. “However, I have been unwavering on the message that we need to make decisions based on science, not emotion. And while New Jersey is making great strides in mitigating the spread of COVID-19, science tells us that at this point, we
can’t safely re-open our schools.”
“I commend Governor Murphy’s thoughtful, deliberative approach that takes into account the concerns of school administrators, teachers, and other stakeholders in the education community,” said Education Commissioner Lamont O. Repollet. “However, the most compelling factor guiding today’s decision is the health of New Jersey’s students and educators, and their families.”
The Administration will create a steering committee consisting of a diverse group of stakeholders in the education community to explore summer learning opportunities for all students, including school-sponsored summer programming and Extended School Year for students with disabilities. The committee will provide recommendations to the Administration as to which services need to continue to be provided remotely should the public health emergency extend past the conclusion of the 2019-2020 school year.
The committee will also explore approaches for the safest and most efficient re-opening of schools for the 2020-2021 school year.
In addition, the Department of Education will work with school officials to share ideas on safe and innovative ways to recognize 2020 high school graduates and other end-of-year milestones for students.
Federal Stimulus Funding
The Administration plans to tap federal funds that will help schools improve continuity of learning, assist with sanitizing and deep cleaning of school buildings, and address the emotional needs of students. New Jersey recently applied for $310 million in federal funding through the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund, which is part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.
Districts will have substantial local discretion in use of these funds; the CARES Act lists a number of allowable uses, including:
• Purchase of educational technology, including hardware, software and connectivity
• Purchase of sanitization and cleaning supplies
• Mental health supports
• Plan and implement activities related to summer learning and supplemental after-school programs,
including providing online learning during the summer months to address the needs of student
• Planning and coordinating the distribution of meals to eligible students
• Provide principals and other school leaders with the resources necessary to address the needs of t0 Their individual schools
• Activities to address the unique needs of student subgroups Federal officials have signaled that states can anticipate a rapid approval of applications for this stimulus funding.