New Jersey public schools will reopen in September, but students, teachers and administrators will have a lot of big changes to implement.
"This is 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," Governor Phil Murphy said in a statement Friday. "The return to school will pose challenges, but we are confident that New Jersey's school districts can move forward in any way that best serves the needs of their district while also achieving a safe environment for students and staff."
According to regulations from the state Department of Education, students must stay six feet apart in classrooms and on school buses. Lunch times will be staggered so social distances can be maintained.
All teachers, school staff and visitors will be required to wear masks, unless they can't for health reasons.
Students will be "strongly encouraged" to wear face coverings all day, and they will be required to wear masks when a social distance cannot be maintained.
The new rules are part of the state's 'The Road Back: Restart and Recovery Plan for Education,' which is meant to serve as a blueprint for local policies.
New Jersey has 2,500 public school and 1.4 million students.
Officials said they do not have a comprehensive plan that will cover the specific needs of every district. The state suggested that some school schedules and start times will have to be heavily modified.
Keeping districts closed for virtual learning as they did for most of the spring is not an option, the state said.
All districts are required to have some form of in-person instruction, but districts may develop a "hybrid" model that utilizes both in-person and remote learning.
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