July 26, 2020
While New Jersey is hoping to resume some in-person learning at schools this fall, the state is now permitting parents and students to choose online-only instruction for the upcoming 2020-21 school year.
The decision comes after parents provided feedback and said that they wanted a greater say in the decision-making process of whether their children should return for in-person learning this fall, the state said.
The state, which has issued guidance on the policy change, said that all students are eligible for full-time virtual learning if their parent chooses. That includes students who receive special education or other related services.
School districts are required to set clear policies for families who wish to pursue all-remote instruction for their children, as well as for those who may want to transition back to in-person learning during the school year.
The procedures “should be designed to ensure that families can make necessary arrangements to prepare for their child’s transition, and to help schools maintain continuity of services,” according to the state.
School districts are also responsible for communicating clearly and frequently with families about the availability of online-only instruction and the related procedures.
Students that choose to partake in virtual learning this fall must receive the same quality of instruction as students who are returning for in-person classes this upcoming school year.
Full-time remote programs must also follow the same guidelines as in-person and hybrid programs with regards to student attendance and the length of the school day, the state said.
School districts will also be mandated to report data about student participation in all-remote learning to the New Jersey Department of Education for evaluation.
The complete guidance issued by the state can be accessed here.
“My office and the Department of Education are committed to working with our families, educators, and administrators as we navigate the unique challenges that the 2020-2021 school year will bring,” Gov. Phil Murphy said. “We will continue to communicate with our districts and will work diligently to find solutions that prioritize the safety of our students and staff."
Murphy indicated earlier this week that the state’s education department would issue guidance allowing parents to choose whether or not to have their children continue virtual instruction instead of attending class in person during the upcoming school year.
All schools are expected to resume some in-person instruction this fall, though schools can develop a hybrid model that includes some virtual learning.
New Jersey closed schools in March due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The rest of the school year consisted of remote instruction.