NJEA issued this statement following the release of the New Jersey Department of Education’s Restart and Recovery Plan for Education:
“The last four months have demonstrated the creativity, resilience and determination of New Jersey’s public school employees and the students we educate in every community in our state. NJEA members have shown that we will go above and beyond to meet the educational, emotional and physical needs of students even under the extreme circumstances we have faced during this global pandemic.
“Throughout this challenge, we have appreciated the opportunity to work with the New Jersey Department of Education and other public education stakeholders to ensure the health, safety and welfare of public school students and staff alike. As we prepare to resume school in the fall, that collaboration remains essential.
“The document released today provides a number of helpful requirements and guidelines so that districts can begin the important work of preparing plans that prioritize health and safety. In some cases, the guidance may need to be more specific and less permissive to ensure that the highest standards are upheld everywhere.
“We have also released our own Education Recovery Plan that addresses additional challenges and other considerations. We will remain vigilant and advocate across the state to ensure that every district meets and exceeds both the standards outlined today and those we have outlined previously.
“New Jersey must also be prepared to respond quickly to changing circumstances. Governor Murphy has repeatedly said that decisions must be driven by data, not dates. If data emerges over the summer or during the school year that demonstrates a need for stronger measures, even including a temporary return to fully remote learning, we must act quickly to protect the health and safety of students and staff.
“We must also acknowledge that the measures outlined today may not be adequate for every individual, particularly those whose health or other conditions require them to take greater precautions to avoid exposing themselves or others to COVID-19. We must deal with those situations in a way that protects the rights, dignity and privacy of those individuals, whether they are students or staff.
“We look forward to working with all of our fellow public education advocates and stakeholders to keep our students safe, healthy, learning and growing next year and throughout this ongoing challenge.”