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When New Jersey Schools Reopen, What You Need to Know

Switlik face shields are available for adults and children

When New Jersey schools closed during the 2019-2020 school year many of us and our kids were heartbroken. There were no field days, no school assemblies, and no end-of-the-year parties. Students and teachers didn’t even get the chance to say goodbye to each other. We were left with the nagging question, when will New Jersey schools reopen? What will NJ schools look like when they do?

sad child saying goodby to school teacher

A few weeks ago Governor Phil Murphy released his plan, The Road Back, Restart and Recovery Plan for Education, a guide to how New Jersey school should reopen. Many sources were quick to pull out highlights of the 100+ page report, not me. (You can read the full report here.)

Parents have questions about New Jersey schools reopening. I have questions. A quick short article was not going to suffice for me or my readers.

I’ve taken some time to dig into the New Jersey school reopening report to gather the information I believe will be helpful to you. I’ve organized it by how the school day usually works so you can get a feel for what the school day may look like when kids go back to school in New Jersey.

We’ve partnered with Switlik on this article. While creating our guide to where to buy face masks in New Jersey, we had the opportunity to test out their clear face shields for students and teachers. I feel the shields are a great option to protect students’ and teachers’ faces without blocking the lips from being viewed. Student-to-teacher communication is better when we can see each other’s faces and what each person is trying to communicate. Many of you agreed when we posted about them on Facebook. I reached out to them to sponsor this article about when New Jersey schools reopen and I am thankful they agreed. You can learn more and order a face shield at their website.

Switlik face shields are easy for students to use and to clean.

If you prefer to read this as a short ebook you can also purchase my analysis in a printable ebook/pdf version or on Amazon in Kindle format. Coming soon.

One thing to note is NJ Governor Phil Murphy’s plan sets forth “anticipated minimum standards” items school districts must include in their plans and “considerations” items they should incorporate but aren’t required to. What each individual New Jersey school district decides to do will be different. Some may do the minimum. Others will go beyond that. Most New Jersey school districts will be somewhere in the middle. All will need to submit their schools plans for reopening for approval.

Non-public schools are encouraged to also utilize the plan to guide their reopening strategies and anticipate the health and safety standards that are likely to accompany the return to in-person instruction. … To that end, 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.

Lamont O. Repollet, Ed. D NJ Commissioner of Education

My analysis of the The Road Back, Restart and Recovery Plan for Education, New Jersey Department of Education’s report does not go into detail regarding the required cleaning procedures for New Jersey schools. I think it’s safe to say our schools will be cleaner than ever. They will be cleaned more often and our custodial staff, who already work hard will continue to do so in order to keep everyone safe. If you have concerns regarding school cleanliness please visit the state report or contact your school district.

It’s also safe to say that NJ schools will comply with the Center for Disease Control, state, and local guidelines.

So let’s get to it.

When NJ schools reopen expect to see some students wearing protective face shields from Switlik.

What to Expect When New Jersey Schools Reopen

Getting to School

Children travel to New Jersey schools in many different ways. Some walk to school. Some may ride their bikes to school. Other kids get dropped off to school by moms, dads, friends, or grandparents. A great deal of students take the bus to school.

a school bus
Photo by cottonbro

Will New Jersey school buses be available this school year?

What’s the report tells us and what you can imagine is, busing a full bus of students is problematic. A regular school bus can transport an average of 54 children at a time.

Last school year, nearly 740,000 students were transported to and from school.

The Road Back, Restart and Recovery Plan for Education, New Jersey Department of Education

If students are seated 6 feet apart (one student per row with an empty row between students) that same bus can only hold 11 students. Is that practical or cost efficient to run a bus for 11 students?

If barriers are placed between seats or rows, the bus’ capacity will be slightly higher, possibly 22 students per bus, but then there will be additional surfaces to be cleaned. The New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission would need to approve any barriers put in place.

Bused students may be assigned seating on a bus and not allowed to move once on the bus. Siblings will likely be required to sit together.

School buses will run when NJ schools reopen
Photo by ebpilgrim

Districts may need to hire additional staff for each bus to ensure that students are socially distancing from each other or to make sure students wear face coverings. When social distancing on buses is not possible students who are able to will be required to wear masks or face coverings.

School districts might reconsider providing courtesy busing during the 2020 to 2021 school year. Nearly 1/3, or close to 235,000 students receive non-mandated courtesy busing services. In order to provide for possible social distancing on a school bus, a district might consider reducing or eliminating this service for the school year.

The Road Back, Restart and Recovery Plan for Education, New Jersey Department of Education

To reduce transportation expenses, New Jersey school districts will be allowed to suspend courtesy transportation. Parents, in areas where busing is normally required, will be allowed to opt out and find an alternative way to get their child to school.

State law also allows a parent whose child is eligible for mandated busing to waive those services for the school year.

The Road Back, Restart and Recovery Plan for Education, New Jersey Department of Education

What you need to know before you put your child on a bus is that the report suggests that buses be cleaned between routes, but ONLY requires they be cleaned daily.

Can I drive my child or other children to school?

Yes, but expect to see some new restrictions in place to ensure that school drop offs and pick ups are done safely and with minimal interaction between parents and others.

  • Separate entrances and exits may be established.
  • New one-way routes may be established.
  • Parents may be restricted from entering the building for pickups and drop offs and may be required to wear masks.

Can kids still bike to school in New Jersey this year?

There were no new guidelines listed in regards to students biking to school, but see the above notes. Also take into consideration bikes might need to be parked in additional areas as it won’t be safe to have kids all at their bikes together. Or they may be expected to have face coverings on while parking their bikes.

a bike rack at a New Jersey school

Can kids walk to school?

There were also no details listed in regards to walking to school. Students would be expected to follow procedures regarding pathways and entrances to use. Face coverings would likely be encouraged if they were walking to school with non-family members.

Meals at New Jersey Schools this School Year

Considering some NJ students eat not just lunch at school, but also breakfast I wanted to address meals before we talked about the school day. I expect when NJ schools reopen they will still need to provide meals to students, but how they do so will look entirely different.

Breakfast at School

School cafeterias will be restricted from offering the family-style, self-service, and buffet-style of service students are accustomed to. For breakfast expect grab and go items like juices, milks, individual servings of cereal, cereal bars, fresh fruit. These items already come in a form that requires little prep and minimal handling.

Since breakfast doesn’t tend to be as busy as lunch this might be the only time of day that students can be in the cafeteria. With less kids it shouldn’t be as difficult to seat them 6 feet apart from each other.

If seating in the cafeteria is off-limits look to the school to find alternate locations. I don’t expect breakfast to be held in the classrooms as that will require additional staffing that can be hard to plan for. For some students they always plan to have breakfast at school and for others it’s an impromptu decision.

A student buys lunch at a New Jersey school.
Expect that when students go back to school, they may not be able to buy food the same as they have in the past. Photo by CDC/ Amanda Mills

School lunches at NJ Schools

School lunches are an entirely different manner. Students cannot eat and wear a mask at the same time. Students will need to be distanced from each other while eating lunch.

Many New Jersey school districts have their lunch schedule set so there really is no way to stagger lunches or add more lunch periods. With only 20 minutes set aside for each lunch period, and needing to disinfect between periods, shortening the time for lunch really isn’t an option.

Some New Jersey schools have outdoor dining available for lunch time.
Some New Jersey schools have outdoor dining available for lunch time.

It’s a real possibility that students will need to stay in the classroom to eat lunch safely. On the plus side, some schools may have the possibility of outdoor dining so long as students maintain social distancing while eating outside.

Does that mean recess is cancelled? Not exactly, more on that later in this post.

girls sit together in a school lunchroom
Unfortunately, children will not be able to sit this close together in New Jersey school cafeterias.

What about New Jersey students that need to buy lunch at school?

The much loved pizza and nacho days at school will likely be put on hold. The buffet line is closed for now. Expect grab and go options like Crustables, wraps, salads, anything that can be pre-packaged individually. I expect that student would place lunch orders in the morning and their order will be delivered, to their class, at the designated lunchtime.

School meals are critical to student health and well-being, especially for low-income students, and the New Jersey Department of Education considers it a moral imperative to ensure the seamless and continuous feeding of New Jersey’s approximate 1.4 million students during all phases of school reopening. The Department is working with the Departments of Agriculture and Health to ensure that school district concerns related to food service are addressed as more guidance is made available.

The Road Back, Restart and Recovery Plan for Education, New Jersey Department of Education
a student straps on his Switlik clear face shield before heading into school.
Strapping up his Switlik clear face shield before heading into school.

What will a School Day look like when New Jersey schools reopen?

Conditions for learning must not only address students’ and educators’ basic physical safety needs but also the social and emotional and environmental factors that can impact educators’ capacity to teach and students’ capacity to learn.

At a minimum, school districts must adopt a policy for screening students and employees for symptoms of COVID-19 and history of exposure and must strive for social distancing within the classroom and on school buses.

The Road Back, Restart and Recovery Plan for Education, New Jersey Department of Education

Check in with health screenings

School districts must adopt a policy for safely and respectfully screening students and employees for symptoms of and history of exposure to COVID-19. The report states the screenings need to take place at the beginning of the school day, possibly before students enter the school building.

Schools will be expected to have a plan in place if a staff member or student tests positive for COVID-19. More details later in this article.

A NJ school student enters a school building with a clear face covering.

School Visitors

All school visitors will be required to wear face coverings unless doing so inhibits the individual’s health or the individual is under two years of age.

If a visitor refuses to wear a face covering for non-medical reasons and a face covering cannot be provided to the individual the district may deny the individual access to the school.

As always, school visitors will be expected to sign in, preferably using their own pen.

student works on a Mac laptop in a school hallway.

Moving around the school building

Look for schools to establish the following measures to keep students and staff safe while moving around the school building.

  • One-way hallways
  • Designated enter-only and exit-only doorways
  • Markings or signage on floors, walls, sidewalks, and doorways to remind everyone of the expectation to stay 6 feet or more apart from each other.
  • Hallway and bathroom monitors to ensure students are staying apart and not congregating together and are wearing face coverings.

School Schedules

Districts’ re-opening plans must account for resuming in-person instruction in some capacity. Scheduling decisions should be informed by careful evaluation of the health and safety standards and the most up-to-date guidance from the New Jersey Department of Health, as well as the stakeholder input of the needs of all students and the realities of each unique district. School district policies for attendance and instructional time may require modifications for the 2020-2021 school year.

The Road Back, Restart and Recovery Plan for Education, New Jersey Department of Education

When developing school schedules, whether in-school learning or distance learning, schools will need to consider students’ access to technology (inside and outside of the classroom), the staff’s and students’ social and emotional health, childcare concerns, a family’s capacity to provide in-home support for lessons, and the ability to maintain social distancing in the school environment.

District should work closely with their stakeholders to ensure decisions are made collaboratively and transparently and prioritize safely returning students who are most in need of in-person instruction. This may include, but is not limited to, students with disabilities, English language learners, homeless youth, and low-income students.

The Road Back, Restart and Recovery Plan for Education, New Jersey Department of Education
a classroom scene in New Jersey
Photo by Wokandapix

I expect that for the majority of NJ school students they will not see traditional in-class instruction 5 days a week for the beginning of the school year. Instead, there may be a mix of in-school learning days and at-home learning days.

Examples of possible schedules when New Jersey schools reopen

These possible examples were listed in the The Road Back, Restart and Recovery Plan for Education, New Jersey Department of Education.

Example A for grades K-8 – 6 Day Rotation – Students are divided equally, by grade, into groups, for rotating in-person instruction. Let’s say there is a green team, red team, and blue team rotating on a 6 day schedule. The green team attends school on Day 1 and 4. The red team attends on Day 2 and 5. The blue team attends on Day 3 and 6.

During a student’s off day, they would be expected to be doing school work at home.

A NJ student engaged in distance learning from home
Photo by Winnie Bruce

Example B for grades 9 – 12 – A/B Weeks by Grade Band – Rotation by grade band supports 4 day schedules and may provide the opportunity for educators to execute more comprehensive remote instruction on their alternate weeks. Ninth and tenth graders would be on the red team for example. Eleventh and twelfth graders would be the blue team. During the A week the blue team is at school and the red team works from home. During a B week it would switch. The red team would be at school and the blue team would work from home.

Photo by Gustavo Fring

Example C for grades 9-12 A/B Weeks Across Grades – Similar to Example B in that high school students rotate going to school by week. The difference here is that the grades would be divided equally between the red and blue team. Each team would have students in grades ninth through twelfth.

Will my child be required to go to school?

No. The report states students can not be required to receive their school education in the classroom. Virtual learning should be an option for all New Jersey students. How a school responds to a parent’s request for their child to learn from home may depend on a parent’s reason for doing so. Remember, a family always has the option to homeschool if they feel that’s the best decision for their family for this school year.

Jersey Classroom Logo- Transparent
For NJ parents homeschooling and doing virtual learning this fall, the Jersey Classroom can help with fun New Jersey educational worksheets and more. Click to learn more.

What about those at a high-risk for severe illness?

Schools must incorporate into their plans protection for staff and students who are at higher risk for severe illness by allowing them to work, teach, or learn from home and giving them the tools to do so.

Schools must provide reasonable accommodations for staff and students at higher risk for severe illness and promote behaviors that reduce spread, such as social distancing, frequent hand washing, and the use of face coverings.

The Road Back, Restart and Recovery Plan for Education, New Jersey Department of Education

Furthermore, the report states that reasonable accommodations should be provided for individuals that the Centers for Disease Control identifies as having a higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19.

  • Older adults, 65 years and older
  • Individuals with disabilities
  • Individuals with medical conditions including but not limited to
    • Chronic lung disease or Asthma
    • Serious heart conditions
    • Immunocompromised
    • Severe obesity
    • Diabetes
    • Chronic kidney disease undergoing dialysis
    • Liver disease
    • Medically fragile students with IEPs
    • Students with complex disabilities with IEPs
    • Students who require accommodations under a 504 Plan.

Will distance learning be available?

Yes, virtual learning will continue to be guided by legislation.

District and school policies for attendance and instructional contact time will need to accommodate opportunities for both synchronous and asynchronous instruction while ensuring the requirements for 180 school day are met.

Hours of instructional time are not defined as the student’s time spent in front of a teacher or in front of a screen, but time engaged in standards-based learning under the guidance and direction of the teacher.

The Road Back, Restart and Recovery Plan for Education, New Jersey Department of Education
When New Jersey schools reopen virtual learning will be available. Here a student sits at a laptop communicating with her teacher.

Face Masks in New Jersey schools

Staff will be required to wear face coverings unless doing so would inhibit their health.

Will New Jersey students be required to wear face masks all day?

Students are required to wear face coverings and will be required to do so unless of course it inhibits their health. The state also seems to recognize that it may be impractical to require young children or individuals with disabilities to wear masks or face coverings.

a NJ child stays safe wearing a clear face shield from Switlik.

In a classroom setting where social distancing can take place or physical barriers are in place, face coverings can be removed while students are seated at desks but should be worn when moving about the classroom.

The Road Back, Restart and Recovery Plan for Education, New Jersey Department of Education

As a teacher and a parent, I would ask that if your child’s teacher asks students to keep their masks and face coverings on at all times in their classroom, please respect their wishes to do so.

a little boy wears a mask

If your child still needs a mask please visit our guide to where to get a face mask in New Jersey.

School Hand Sanitizing Stations

Your child can expect to find hand sanitizing stations

  • In their classrooms
  • At school entrances and exits
  • Near lunchrooms
  • In bathrooms
A NJ school student uses hand sanitizer
Photo by Julia M Cameron

School lockers

School lockers will likely be discouraged this year unless a school can create a locker schedule that allows for social distancing. Instead, students may have cubbies or bins for their personal use in their classroom.

school lockers
Photo by Ubeyde Oral

The Classroom

What new school supplies will my child need?

Expect that your child will still need all the same school supplies as in a typical year, but give them extras of everything. You don’t want to run into a situation where they don’t have something and may need to borrow from a classmate. It breaks my heart, that this year, teachers will have to discourage sharing, but it’s something that will need to be done to keep kids safe.

In addition to the regular school supplies, please add these to your school shopping lists. (Links to Amazon are affiliate links.)

a high schooler wears a switlik clear face covering before heading into high school.

Add this to your shopping list for preschoolers and younger students

Little kids often need help getting dressed and staying dressed especially at transition points in the day or when using the bathroom. Keep that in mind when shopping for apparel for your kids. The easier it is for them to take care of themselves the less hands on contact they need to have with an adult. (Links to Amazon are affiliate links.)

How will New Jersey classrooms look different?

If classrooms are not able to maintain social distancing, additional modifications will need to be put in place such as including physical barriers between desks, having students sit on only one side of a table, or arranging desks to all face in the same direction.

When New Jersey schools reopen students may be seated alone at tables.
Photo by Natalie

Sharing will be discouraged. Schools and classrooms must minimize the use of shared objects everything from glue sticks and pencils to school books and electronic devices. Anything used must be throughly cleaned and disinfected before another person can use it.

Classrooms must have adequate ventilation, hand sanitizing stations, and ensure students wash hands frequently.

  • Expect that some classrooms may need to keep windows open to ensure sufficient airflow.

When weather allows, windows should be open to allow for greater air circulation. Indoor environments with recirculated air are the riskiest of environments for COVID-19 spread.

The Road Back, Restart and Recovery Plan for Education, New Jersey Department of Education

New Jersey classrooms will be required to have hand sanitizing stations. Many do already.

Children will need to maintain social distancing even during nap time and learning centers.

Circle time and small group activities will need to be avoided.

Additional time will designated for hand washing

  • Before kids reenter a classroom
  • Before snacks and lunchtime
  • After sneezing, wiping, or blowing their nose
  • After snacks and lunchtime
  • After any outdoor playtimes or recess
a student wears a mask
Photo by Retha Ferguson

Will my child be in the same classroom all day?

I believe for the most part yes. Students will be in the same classroom most of the day. Larger classrooms such as gyms, cafeterias, and auditoriums will be allowed to be used for classes to make social distancing easier to facilitate.

Districts are encouraged to use outdoor classrooms whenever possible and seasonally appropriate.

Expect your child to be with the same group of children all day with possibly different teachers coming into the classroom to teach specials or related arts classes.

What about restroom breaks?

Students will be allowed bathroom breaks. Keep in mind students will be closely monitored to ensure bathroom breaks are not being abused and that restrooms are not becoming crowded.

Person washing hands in school restroom
Photo by CDC

School water fountains

Have you ever seen younger students use a water fountain? It’s pretty gross. Water fountains will be cleaned often, but let’s play it safe and encourage our kids to avoid them. Send your child to school with multiple filled water bottles.

Additional things to know about your child’s class

Districts must continue to meet their obligations to students with disabilities to the greatest extent possible.

Each school district should strive to ensure that every student has access to a device and Internet connectivity. Click over to learn more about Comcast’s Internet Essentials, a way for New Jersey families to get affordable internet access.

Social emotional learning will be critical in re-engaging students, supporting adults, rebuilding relationships, and creating a foundation for academic learning. To this end, school districts are encouraged to thoughtfully plan around the well-being of educators so they can support the social and emotional well-being and learning needs of their students, acknowledge and prepare for the potential trauma that staff and students have faced during the COVID-19 school closures, and recognize and empower educators’ and staff’s strengths.

The Road Back, Restart and Recovery Plan for Education, New Jersey Department of Education

In other words, it won’t all be academics and hand washing when New Jersey students go back to school. There will be classroom time set aside for their well being and emotional development.

An empty NJ classroom with tables a whiteboard and a white screen.
Photo by Wokandapix

Is recess cancelled at New Jersey schools?

Recess is not cancelled. It will look different, but it is not cancelled. Students can be allowed outdoor recess time so long as they stay with their class. There can not be intermingling with other classes. School districts will likely divide up who can play where and on which days. For example, on Day 1 class A gets the basketball courts. On Day 2, that class gets the playground. On Day 3 they are on the fields, and Day 4 they stay inside.

School districts must complete an inventory of outdoor spaces and mark off areas to ensure separation between students. Recess must be staggered by groups. Staff must disinfect playground equipment and other shared equipment between uses.

The Road Back, Restart and Recovery Plan for Education, New Jersey Department of Education
Recess will be allowed when NJ schools reopen.
Photo by Gustavo Fring

Gym class

Gym class, for some students, it’s their favorite part of the day. With so much time in one classroom our students are going to need gym class to get out those wiggles. There does not seem to be any restrictions on gym class so long as kids can maintain social distancing.

School districts should also consider closing locker rooms and encouraging students to wear comfortable clothing and safe footwear to school so they can participate in physical education classes without needing to change.

The Road Back, Restart and Recovery Plan for Education, New Jersey Department of Education

Before and After School Care

For every NJ school district that has offered before or after care in the past, expect them to offer it again. Some may offer it for the first time. Districts know this care is a priority for working parents and I believe NJ schools will do all they can to offer before and after school care for students.

Child care will be needed as schools reopen, particularly in instances were modified school schedules may increase the likelihood that families that otherwise would not utilize childcare will now require it.

The Road Back, Restart and Recovery Plan for Education, New Jersey Department of Education
A father places a face mask on a child before sending him to school.
Photo by Ketut Subiyanto

Extracurricular Activities, Athletics, and After School Clubs

The report says this:

All extracurricular activities must comply with applicable social distancing requirements and hygiene protocol.

The Road Back, Restart and Recovery Plan for Education, New Jersey Department of Education

I don’t see extracurricular activities starting on schedule when New Jersey schools reopen. I think in these first few weeks schools are going to want to minimize the time students and staff are in the building. The priority will be on ensuring they can follow their school reopening plan and provide a quality education at the same time. These extra curricular activities are a nice thing to have but some would argue that they aren’t necessities. Activities that can be done without person-to-person contact may be allowed to start.


The New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association (NJSIAA) has established a COVID-19 Medical Advisory Task Force (MATF) responsible for providing guidance to allow New Jersey high school student-athletes to return to athletics as soon and as safely as possible.

The Road Back, Restart and Recovery Plan for Education, New Jersey Department of Education

The NJSIAA will also review state and local health guidelines and NJ Department of Education guidance to determine which school sports can happen and if so how they can occur safely.

Field Trips

Considering the logistics involved with planning a trip and the multiple ways a student or teacher could be exposed to the virus in an environment beyond the school’s control, I would not expect there to be any field trips for this school year. The report encourages school districts to cancel them along with school assemblies, and large school events.

Boy engages in virtual learning with his New Jersey school teacher.

What if someone gets sick with COVID-19?

If a school district becomes aware than an individual who has spent time in a district facility tests positive for COVID-19, district officials must immediately notify local health officials, staff, and families of a confirmed case while maintaining confidentiality.

The Road Back, Restart and Recovery Plan for Education, New Jersey Department of Education

If your child begins to show symptoms of COVID-19 or has tested positive for the illness or someone in your immediate family does you have a responsibility to notify your school district. They have that same responsibility to notify you if your child was exposed to it from another classmate or staff member.

School districts will need to establish a school-based Pandemic Response Team to create and implement COVID-19-related decisions should the virus become present in the school community.

Should a staff member or student start to show symptoms there must be an established isolated space they can get to until such time that the student or staff member can get home.

NJ school teacher masks up before going into a school building.
Photo by Anna Shvets

What does the CDC recommend?

Schools might need to implement short-term closure procedures regardless of community spread if an infected person has been in the school building. If this happens the CDC recommends the following procedures;

Close off areas used by the sick person and do not use before cleaning and disinfection. Wait 24 hours before you clean and disinfect.

Open outside doors and windows to increase air circulation to the area.

Cleaning staff to clean and disinfect all areas used by the ill persons, focusing especially on frequently touched surfaces.

The Road Back, Restart and Recovery Plan for Education, New Jersey Department of Education

Contact Tracing

Contact tracing is the process used to identify those who have come into contact with people who have tested positive for contagious diseases, in this case COVID-19. School districts will have a responsibility to be aware of contact tracing and how it may need to be used in their district.

a student wears a Switlik face shield to stay safe when heading back into school

When will I know my school’s plan for reopening?

School districts should strive to share their scheduling plans with staff, families, and students at least four weeks before the start of the school year in order to allow families to plan childcare and work arrangements.

The Road Back, Restart and Recovery Plan for Education, New Jersey Department of Education

My interpretation of that means if your child starts high school in August, usually, you should know the school’s plan by the end of July. If your child starts school right before Labor Day, you should receive notification the first week of August. For the majority of K-8 New Jersey students that typically start the day after Labor Day, we should be notified of the schools plan by August 6, 2020.

By August 7, 2020, every New Jersey parent should know their schools’ reopening plan so that they can decide for themselves what’s best for their child.

Make sure you are on your child’s school’s phone, email, and newsletter list as well as following them on social media so you do not miss any important updates.

A NJ school reopening committee meets around a board table to plan for the upcoming school year.
Photo by Jopwell

New Jersey Schools Reopen – My final thoughts

My heart goes out to our teachers, school administrators, school staff, parents, and the kids. Let us not for a minute think that any of this will be easy.

The more I read this report the more I found myself finding contradictions… Catch 22s. Spend more money to implement these safety protocols, but don’t go over your regular school budget. You can use your school emergency fund to cover unexpected expenses, but only if you ask the New Jersey Department of Education for permission and get approved. Hire more staff to ensure social distancing and safety measures are being followed, but try not to have more people in the building than you need to. Wash hands frequently, but don’t have large groups in the bathroom. Stagger instruction time. Account for everyone’s mental health… but still fit in some quality education.

Student wears switlik face shield to practice for when schools reopen

Whatever plan your school decides on, know that the work they put into it was not easy. It took time. It took work. There were probably debates and maybe hurt feelings. While COVID-19 exists there are no perfect solutions, but there are people that care. There are staff members, school boards, teachers, parents, and communities doing the best they can to ensure that this upcoming school year is as safe as it can be for everyone. To the degree that you can, please show them your respect, understanding, thanks, appreciation, and optimism. Our children are watching.

Child looking serious
Photo by Skyler Ewing

New Jersey Schools Reopening Plans by District

As New Jersey school districts publish their reopening plans we will link to them in a list below.

New Jersey School Districts Starting with Virtual Learning

These school districts are starting the school year with remote learning

  • Atlantic City
  • Bayonne
  • Elizabeth
  • Egg Harbor Township
  • Freehold Township
  • Jersey City
  • Montclair
  • New Brunswick
  • Newark
  • Plainfield
  • Pleasantville
  • Scotch Plains-Fanwood
  • Toms River
  • Willingboro
An empty classroom before New Jersey schools reopen
Photo by weisanjiang

Additional Resources for New Jersey students and their families

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