Proposed New Jersey legislation pushes for all-virtual school this fall

TRENTON, New Jersey (WPVI) -- Three New Jersey lawmakers are proposing legislation that would require all public schools districts to go virtual this fall.

The bill is co-sponsored by Assembly Democrats Mila Jasey, Pamela Lampitt and Joann Downey.

The proposal requires that schools start the year virtually, and then re-evaluate on a monthly basis starting in November. Special education services would still be in-person.

In a statement released this week, Lampitt said: "In-person learning, without a doubt, produces the best educational outcome for students and we are all eager to return to the classroom. However, until we can ensure the safety of our students and school staff, we must focus our efforts on how we can enhance remote and virtual learning to provide students with the highest quality education possible."

As New Jersey school districts create their plans for this academic year, many parents' heads are spinning.

"I don't want to expose them to unnecessary risk but I also don't want them to live in a world where they don't have school," said David Martino, a father of three from Glassboro.

The state department of education has tasked each district to come up with a plan, and districts can offer families a completely virtual option.

"They recently sent out a survey asking if parents just want to do remote learning which is what I opted to do for my son," said Brianna Catrine of Delanco.

"We thought it's better for her to stay home and do the remote learning. Because I don't think it's absolutely safe out there," said Catalin Eremia of Oaklyn, whose 12-year-old daughter will learn from home.

Others fear they're ill-equipped for an all-remote scenario.

"I went to grad school and some of the stuff my 11-year-old is doing in math - I'm not prepared to teach them," said Martino.

Gov. Phil Murphy said Wednesday he won't comment on specific legislation, but he said the state must approve all district plans ahead of the start of the school year, and said that flexibility must be a key factor in planning for this academic year.
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