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One week ago today, Gov. Phil Murphy announced that all public schools must be back in September for full-time in-school instruction. At a press conference he said, “I want to unequivocal about this. We are expecting Monday through Friday, in-person, every school, every district.”
That led to some blowback from parents like Michelle Prejean, who said, “I don’t want anyone telling me what’s best for my kids” and Deanna Nye, who said, “I understand kids need to be back in school, it is so important, but some kids are thriving remotely.” And Education Law Center, which functions as the legal arm of the state teachers union, weighed in: Murphy, Executive Director David Sciarra said that Murphy has “a legal obligation — a clear legal duty — to make sure schools are safe to reopen.”
Yesterday Murphy walked that announcement back, telling News 12 New Jersey, “I did not intend to include folks who have some immunity or some other issue with their health where that could put them at risk. I did not mean that.” And, in a bow to local control, he added that it would be up to local districts to determine what their remote option would look like, if they decided to have one.
Currently New Jersey is experiencing an increase in COVID-19 cases, possibly due to the British variant. The Star-Ledger reports today that NJ’s seven-day average for newly confirmed cases is 3,783, up 11.6% from a week ago and 31.2% from a month ago.
Also yesterday, JerseyCAN released New Jersey’s first data on learning loss during remote instruction. (For coverage, see here.) According to the data, students in grades 3-8 are experiencing a 30 percentile point drop in English Language Arts (ELA) proficiency and a 36 percentile point drop in math proficiency. Among the hardest hit are those from low-income students, who are disproportionately Black and Latino.