By Kimberly Davis

NEW JERSEY (CBS) — New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy is holding fast to his desire for schools to reopen. But New Jersey teachers unions have been pushing back.

As New Jersey school districts continue to announce their proposed reopening plans, there’s one thing many teachers agree on — there are a lot of unknowns heading into the school year.

This fall, all New Jersey schools should reopen with in-person classes, Gov. Murphy said Wednesday, even though legislators are calling for delays in a proposed bill.

“There’s a lot of interaction, there’s a lot of support that students get in the classroom that is very hard to duplicate at home,” said a Camden County middle school teacher who did not want to be on camera.

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He says remote learning from home isn’t nearly as effective as it is in an actual classroom. But he foresees a lot of potential problems with the hybrid learning option, like if a teacher tests positive for COVID-19.

“How many of my students would have to quarantine? Who knows how long I’ve had it,” the teacher said.

Another Camden County English teacher agrees.

“In most instances, we are dealing with limited maintenance staff, we are running them ragged and thin. So who’s going to do the sanitation? Who’s going to do all the cleaning? Can we afford to do that?” asked the high school teacher who did not want to be identified.

She says, according to her school district’s reopening plan, all staff must wear masks but it’s optional for students.

“In their rush to educate children, what about the educators? And that’s the concern because those educators have children too,” she said.

She believes the best option to keep everyone safe is to continue remote learning from home until at least January.

“School districts realize we’ve got to take a risk because these kids need the structure. They need this education, they need to be in school. But the question becomes at what cost?” she said.

Murphy believes it’s vital for students, especially in low-income and minority districts, to have some in-person classes.

The proposed bill would continue remote learning until at least Oct. 31.

Kimberly Davis

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