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TRENTON  – Governor Phil Murphy and Department of Education Commissioner Lamont O. Repollet today announced the release of “The Road Back: Restart and Recovery Plan for Education” to assist schools with reopening in the fall.

The guidance announces that, absent a change in public health data, public schools will open for in-person instruction and operations in some capacity at the beginning of the 2020-2021 school year.

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.

This has been an unprecedented time for our students and educators, but we are pleased to announce that we anticipate the return to our classrooms in some capacity this fall,said Governor Murphy.“The return to school will pose challenges, but we are confident that New Jersey’s school districts can move forward in a way that best serves the needs of their district while also achieving a safe environment for students and staff.”

The guidance focuses on four key functional areas: conditions for learning, leadership and planning, policy and funding, and continuity of learning.

  1. Social distancing: Schools and districts must allow for social distancing within the classroom. This can be achieved by ensuring students are seated at least six feet apart. If schools are not able to maintain this physical distance, additional modifications should be considered. These include physical barriers between desks and turning desks to face the same direction (rather than facing each other)or having students sit on only one side of a table and spaced apart.
  2. Face coverings: School staff and visitors are required to wear face coverings unless doing so would inhibit the individual’s health or the individual is under two years of age. Students are strongly encouraged to wear face coverings and are required to do so when social distancing cannot be maintained, unless doing so would inhibit the student’s health. It is necessary to acknowledge that enforcing the use of face coverings may be impractical for young children or certain individuals with disabilities.
  3. Limited capacity: 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.
  4. Cleaning/disinfecting: Procedures must be implemented by each school district for the sanitization of school buildings and school buses. Increased handwashing measures are also important for students and staff.

Click here for a summary of the guidance.