"Today's guidance comes with one overarching requirement: that our public schools will open in some capacity with the health of students, their families, and educators being the TOP PRIORITY," Murphy said.
The governor said that the state is using Four Principles in its guidance to schools:
- Ensuring a conducive and learning atmosphere
- Supporting educational leaders with planning
- Providing policy guidance and necessary funding to schools
- Security continuity of learning
Each district will be expected to develop, in collaboration with community stakeholders, a plan to reopen schools in the fall that best fits the district's local needs. The guidance provides anticipated minimum standards regarding health and safety that districts should use as they plan for reopening. The guidance also provides additional considerations that may help districts as they develop their plans.
Read the entire guidance plan HERE.
All faculty and staff must wear face coverings and students will also be strongly encouraged to wear face coverings and required to do so when social distancing cannot be maintained.
All schools will work with the custodians to sanitize the school daily.
It is recommended that students and staff be seated at least six feet apart in class when practicable. When weather allows, windows should be opened to allow for greater air circulation.
Bus drivers will also be required to make sure that students are wearing face coverings.
"I understand this will be no easy feat," Education Commissioner Lamont O. Repollet said of the return to school. "Knowing that the health of students and staff is our number one concern, our guide will begin to fill in the picture of what a safe education system will look like in the fall."
Other provisions in the guidance include:
- Cafeteria directors should consider staggering meal times to allow for social distancing; discontinuing self-serve or buffet lines; having students eat meals outside or in their classrooms; and requiring staff to disinfect eating areas between groups.
- Recess should also be held in staggered shifts, with efforts to promote social distancing and hygiene protocols.
- Cohorting: Schools may wish to identify small groups of students and keep them together (cohorting) to ensure that student and staff groupings are as static as possible, thereby limiting exposure to large groups of students.
- School bus operators should encourage social distancing. CDC guidelines recommend seating on a school bus such that there is one student seated per row, skipping a row between each child, if possible. Barriers separating rows of bus seats may also be considered. If social distancing is not feasible, face coverings must be worn by students who are able to do so. Increased ventilation (i.e. opening windows) is also recommended in the guidelines.
Governor Murphy also noted that the plans in any and all districts could change if there is a need to return to an all distance learning plan should there be another wave of the coronavirus.
The state's roughly 600 school districts, plus private schools, conducted remote lessons to end the academic year because of the outbreak.
Governor Murphy said that 44 more New Jerseyans died on Thursday, bringing the statewide total to 13,060 lives lost. There were also 524 new positive COVID-19 test results for a cumulative total since March 4th of 170,584.
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