Murphy Will Let Districts Keep Schools Closed in the Fall
Under intense pressure from the New Jersey Education Association and many school administrators, Gov. Phil Murphy is expected to announce Wednesday that any school that wants to keep classrooms closed may do so.
It's a significant reversal of policy for Murphy, who has been insisting for weeks that all school districts must offer at least partial in-class instruction. It also comes a day after the New Jersey Education Association co-wrote a letter to the governor saying it did not believe it was safe to return students and teachers to classrooms.
CBS News reported this morning that a source in the governor's office told the news organization Murphy would issue a directive today that would allow districts to make the decision to keep school buildings closed on a case-by-case basis. NJ Advance Media, also speaking to "a source with knowledge of the issue," confirmed the report.
A growing number of districts have been expressing concern over the start of the year. Elizabeth announced this week its would begin the year with all-remote learning because about 400 teachers were refusing to return to the classroom citing health concerns. There were similar concerns in Jersey City.
The superintendent of the Manalapan-Englishtown Regional District said last week he wouldn't make kids wearing masks — as required for in-person instruction under more recent rules from the state Department of Education — sit in 85-degree classrooms. He revised district plans to keep some kids home in September, while others would be placed in air-conditioned rooms.
Most districts were planning some type of hybrid schedule, with a couple days in class, and the rest of the week with remote learning. Lakewood, however, planned all in-class learning after citing a survey from parents who said they needed schools open so they could work.