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Murphy: N.J. Districts That Can't Meet Safety Standards Will Begin School Year With Remote Learning

EDGEWATER, N.J. (CBSNewYork) - There's been another change in the road to reopening schools in New Jersey.

Gov. Phil Murphy says districts will be allowed to start the year with only remote learning if they need more time to meet health and safety guildelines.

"In person instruction may fully resume immediately should institutions so desire and so long as social distancing among other protections are strictly adhered to," Murphy said.

As CBS2's Andrea Grymes reports, it's yet another potential option for New Jersey schools struggling with how to reopen in September. Murphy says he will let districts start solely online if they can not meet the requirements for in-person learning.

WATCH: Gov. Phil Murphy Briefing On School Reopening

"Not only will this not be a normal school year, furthermore there is no one-size-fits-all plan to this very difficult situation," the governor said.

The governor's announcement comes one day after we told you about Elizabeth schools - their school board voted Monday to begin the year with all-remote learning.

That district is not alone.

"We face supply issues preventing the full receipt and installation of physical barriers to protect our students and staff when necessary," said Willingboro Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Neely Hackett.

Those are just some of the reasons why Murphy has gone back on his initial requirement that all districts offer at least some in-person learning.


"I would not ask the students and parents, for instance, in Willingboro to decide what's best for East Brunswick schools, and vice versa," he said. "For some districts, there are legitimate and documentable reasons why some of these core health and safety standards can not be met on day one. So for these districts today, we are reaffirming our commitment to provide the flexibility for districts to do what is best for their school community."

District that can not meet standards for in-person learning must spell out their plans for addressing these issues, and a date when in-person learning may resume.

LINK: Remote Learning Resources

Some of the standards include providing adequate ventilation and enforcing social distancing.

"We all agree in-person learning needs to be done as safe as possible," said Interim Education Commissioner Kevin Dehmer.

For New Jersey parents and grandparents, there's a mix of reaction.

"I think even if they go part time, or a few hours, it would help. Psychologically," one parent told CBS2's Andrea Grymes. "At least part time."

CORONAVIRUS: NY Health Dept. | NY Call 1-(888)-364-3065 | NYC Health Dept. | NYC Call 311, Text COVID to 692692 | NJ COVID-19 Info Hub | NJ Call 1-(800)-222-1222 or 211, Text NJCOVID to 898211 | CT Health Dept. | CT Call 211 | Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

"If they can't meet the requirements, definitely do the remote learning. Don't send your kids back. I mean you don't want to risk your kid getting sick," said Thomas Siguenza of Little Ferry.

Parents in any district can choose full time remote learning for their kids. That was another prior change the state made. As the governor says, they continue to listen to concerns and make accommodations.

The interim education commissioner says the vast majority of NJ districts so far plan a mix of both in-person and remote learning.

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