By Stephanie Stahl

TRENTON, N.J. (CBS) — A reversal from New Jersey on opening schools. Gov. Phil Murphy announced Wednesday a plan to allow remote learning for districts that cannot ensure student and staff safety. Murphy signed an executive order reopening schools and colleges for in-person instruction, but it also permits virtual learning if COVID-19 health and safety standards aren’t met.

“There is no one-size-fits-all plan to this very difficult situation,” Murphy said.

Emphasizing flexibility, Murphy announced the ability for students and schools to access remote learning. His new executive order opens New Jersey schools in areas where coronavirus transmission rates are low and districts have the resources to keep students safe.

“Schools must certify to the Department of Education that they are able to meet the health and safety standards necessary to resume in-person instruction,” Murphy said. “Districts that cannot will will begin their school year in an all-remote fashion.”

Any school district that cannot meet the health and safety standards is required to begin the school year completely virtual.

“When our schools open in September, they must be ready to safely provide the high-quality education to all students that is a hallmark of New Jersey,” Murphy said. “We know the first day of school is not going to be like any other in our history. We’re fully committed to getting this right.”

It’s a reversal from the state’s previous guidance in June for some in-person fall classes. There’s still fear about sending students back into classrooms even with COVID-19 numbers trending down in New Jersey.

“While allowing in-person instruction to resume, however, we recognized that for some districts there are legitimate and documentable reasons why some of these core health and safety standards cannot be met on Day One,” Murphy said.

The Willingboro School District superintendent says her district isn’t ready for in-person instruction.

Superintendent Dr. Neely Hackett says the safety issues include “inadequate H/V systems to properly ventilate rooms.”

Children have not been heavily impacted by the virus, but there are still concerns they could spread it.

“I don’t think there’s a right or wrong answer right now,” Dr. Kristen Broderick said. “I think it depends on everyone’s comfort level. We plan on sending our kids to school if it’s open, but we have friends that are staying home so I think either one works what’s best for your family.”

So each of New Jersey’s 600 school districts can have different plans that could also include a hybrid program — that includes both in-person and remote learning.

Meanwhile, the state reported 484 new coronavirus cases bringing the statewide total to 185,938.

Stephanie Stahl