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Deanna Nye is the founder of NJ Parents for Virtual Choice, a group of parents and community members who support a permanent option of remote instruction as part of New Jersey’s future.
Editor’s Note: Today’s Wall Street Journal notes, “A 2021 survey of 291 U.S. school districts by Rand Corp. found a surge in the number that offered virtual schools for students after the height of the pandemic. Roughly 26% of the 291 districts were offering remote lessons as a full-time option last year, compared with 3% before the pandemic, according to the Santa Monica, Calif., research organization.”
I am a mother of three children, two of whom are medically compromised. My family faces another school year without virtual learning options for our children.
Families like mine find themselves in a difficult position as they try to obtain restrictive home instruction from their local school districts, take on the monumental task of homeschooling, or for a very privileged few, leave the public school system altogether for private schools. Thousands of families saw their children thrive during remote learning due to the pandemic, but with virtual offerings rolled back, parents have lost a critical education option. Despite 35 other states providing full-time virtual public school options to students, New Jersey policymakers, including Governor Murphy, and the NJEA, have ignored parents’ pleas and failed to provide this much-needed option for students.
While we desire a return to normal in a post-pandemic world, families like mine will always need alternative educational options due to health concerns. Families also discovered their students thrived in an online environment where they could learn without classroom distractions and bullying issues. The reasons to expand virtual learning options abound, and adopting more innovative educational opportunities will prepare New Jersey students for career, college, and the military.
Every child is unique and deserves to learn in a safe, educational environment that meets their individual needs. Online learning may not be the right fit for every student, but it’s time to innovate and offer virtual learning options to New Jersey students and their families.