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August 24, 2020

Most New Jersey school districts pursuing hybrid instruction model

Less than 10% ready to fully reopen as COVID-19 pandemic stretches into fall

Education Schools
New Jersey schools COVID-19 Nick Quan/via Unsplash

Less than 10% of New Jersey school districts plan to fully reopen when the academic year begins. Most intend to adopt a hybrid approach, pairing in-person classes with online instruction.

Most New Jersey school districts are planning to hold at least some classes in person this fall – an instruction model championed by Gov. Phil Murphy. 

According to data compiled by the Department of Education, 436 districts are planning to implement a hybrid instruction model. Only 59 districts intend to fully reopen. Another 180 have applied to begin the year completely remote. The remaining 11 plan to mix hybrid and in-person instruction. 

The state had received 745 educational plans from public, private and religious schools through Monday, Murphy said. 

Of those plans, 251 have been deemed complete and 385 have been returned for revisions. Another 105 plans are awaiting approval. 

"We recognize the tremendous differences between and within our school districts that make a one-size-fits-all solution impractical," Murphy said. "We have provided the communities the flexibility they need to make the right decision that works best for them."

New Jersey has developed regional classifications assessing COVID-19 risk. Each region is defined as having low, moderate, high or very high levels of coronavirus activity. These classifications are designed to help districts select the best instruction model. 

Each region currently has moderate or low levels, meaning all schools can safely reopen for classes – if they so choose. South Jersey has moderate levels. 

Throughout the summer, state officials had pushed school districts to include at least some in-person instruction when classes return. Murphy had stressed that online learning should be considered a complementary tool to in-person instruction. 

But state officials relented on that push after parents, students and educators called for all-remote learning. The state gave districts the option to begin the school year virtually if they could not abide by the state's COVID-19 health and safety protocols. 

Those districts needed to submit plans for meeting the health guidelines necessary for bringing students back to school. They also needed to include an anticipated return date. 

The state also is allowing students to opt for all-remote instruction.

Students receiving in-person instruction will be mandated to wear a face covering at all times. Students with certain disabilities or a personal health issue are exempt from the requirement.

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