CHERRY HILL, N.J. (CBS) — Come September, New Jersey is planning on reopening its schools. The schools were closed back in March to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus. But with the reopening comes new restrictions.
“Learning is a social activity and we want the children to have that experience. The experiential side makes such a dramatic difference,” Cherry Hill Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Joe Meloche said.
The in-school experiences will begin once again in Cherry Hill and elsewhere come September. Education officials made the announcement Friday.
“Data determines dates and as such we must continue to monitor our progress towards the new normal,” New Jersey Department of Education Commissioner Lamont Repollet said.
The state is requiring some level of in-person instruction. However, they are also encouraging districts to come up with a hybrid approach that includes remote learning.
With 11,000 students, that’s how Meloche says they will proceed.
“We have 2,200 kids at High School East. It’s not possible for us to bring 2,200 kids in that building at the same time and maintain social distancing,” Meloche said.
Teachers, staff and visitors will be required to wear masks. Students are encouraged to wear them when social distancing isn’t possible.
Desks and work stations must be six feet apart from each other and when that isn’t possible, a physical barrier must be put in place.
While the state is offering a road map based on CDC guidelines, each district must submit its unique plan at least four weeks prior to the start of the school year.
“There is no one-size-fits-all approach that we could possibly take. Our state has 577 public school districts,” Gov. Phil Murphy said.
While a higher number of cases are being reported in states where reopening is happening, Murphy says school districts should be prepared to close once again if there’s a severe uptick.
“We are still in the fight, we are still in the war. We have come a long, long way in New Jersey. We’ve had to go through hell to get here and we will do everything we can to stay in a good place,” Murphy said.
Education officials say students will not be held back or penalized if they get sick and miss too many classes because of coronavirus.