N.J. to reveal strategy for pre-K to 12th grade schools reopening next week. New college rules provide some hints.

Posted Jun 17, 2020

Parents and educators will learn as soon as early next week how pre-K through 12th grade schools in New Jersey reopen after the summer break as the state continues to reopen from coronavirus closures, Gov. Phil Murphy said Wednesday.

The governor set the timeline for the announcement the same day his administration announced colleges and universities could submit plans to reopen for in-person classes in the summer and fall after months of being closed.

Murphy hinted that the classroom guidelines will be “in spirit” with the college requirements revealed Wednesday, with everyone wearing masks and 6-feet of social distancing, which may require hybrid online and in-person schedules.

“My guess is we’re probably early to mid-week next week on the guidance folks have asked for when it comes to pre-K through 12,” the governor said during his daily coronavirus briefing in Trenton. “Getting us back safely and responsibly to as near normal as possible and all of the above is a priority.”

Murphy initially ordered all schools in the state to close in mid-March. In May, he announced the closures would remain in effect for the remainder of the academic year.

New Jersey has more than 2,500 public schools. Educators and parents alike have been clamoring for details about the requirements so they can start planning now. For many districts, school years are ending this week and next.

The state Department of Education was scheduled to deliver a plan to the administration on Monday.

The guidelines for colleges and universities span some 20 pages, according to state Higher Education Secretary Zakiya Smith Ellis. Colleges must submit plans to the state covering 10 aspects of campus life before students will be allowed to return.

The state officially started Stage 2 of the multi-phase recovery plan Monday with the reopening of outdoor dining with social distancing requirements and indoor nonessential retail at half capacity. Murphy also issued several clarifications to the Stage 2 reopening to include rules for curbside pickup for libraries, yard sales, real estate open houses and car washes. Those activities also resume Monday.

Hair salons, barbershops, nail salons, tattoo parlors, and other personal-care businesses can reopen Monday. So can pools and outdoor, non-contact organized sports. And both youth day camps and in-person summer school can operate beginning July 6. All will have restrictions.

The governor’s administration released guidance for hair and nail salons, barbershops, massage and tattoo parlors and other personal care services on Tuesday morning.

Murphy has said the state could move to Stage 3, which includes indoor dining, reopened bars and entertainment with restrictions, within weeks if the coronavirus outbreak in the state continues to slow.

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