HISTORY OF COVID-19 SCHOOL RELATED EOs:

EO 103 (3/9/20): Declared both a Public Health Emergency and a State of Emergency throughout the State due COVID-19; which was continued by EO 119 (4/7/20); EO 138 (5/6/20); EO 151 (6/4/2); EO 162 (7/6/20); EO 172(8/1/20).
EO 104 (3/16/20) Closed all schools SUPERCEDED by EO 175.
EO 107 (3/21/20) Extended school closures SUPERCEDED by EO 175.
EO 149 (5/30/20) Authorized the gradual restart of ordinary child care services, certain youth sporting activities, and summer camps, including public and non-public school district-operated summer educational programming, with social distancing and infection control requirements.
EO 155 (6/18/20) Allowed the resumption of limited in-person instruction at institutions of higher education.
EO 157 (6/26/20) Permitted indoor recreational facilities to resume operations in accordance with certain health and safety restrictions.
EO 168 (7/20/20) Allowed for the resumption of contact sport practices and competitions for certain organized sports in outdoor settings that has not resulted in any notable increase in New Jersey’s number of COVID-19 cases.
EO 175 (8/13/20) Summarized below.

WHY WAS EO 175 ISSUED?

  1. the Department of Education has determined that in-person instruction provides students with critical academic, social, emotional, and mental health supports that cannot be provided with the same level of efficacy in a remote setting;
  2. school buildings are not open to the public;
  3. the school population does not vary from day to day, there is a reduced risk of COVID-19 transmission than in spaces open to the general public at large;
  4. contact tracing is substantially easier in the event of an outbreak; and
  5. some districts may need additional time to properly implement the health and safety precautions necessary to return to in-person instruction, they can start remotely while actively working to address the deficiencies.

REOPENING

FALL 2020 IN PERSON INSTRUCTION REQUIREMENTS

PreK-12 and Higher Education must submit reopening plans to the DOE/OSHE per the Road Back DOE Guidance, supplemental guidance, DOE Checklists, Attestations, and all DOE and DOH Health and Safety guidance materials. (June, 2020 DOE Road Back, https://www.nj.gov/education/reopening/; DOH Guidance, https://www.nj.gov/health/cd/documents/topics/NCOV/RecommendationsForLocalHealthDepts_K12Schools.pdf)

PreK-12

All school districts (PreK-12) that reopen for full or part-time in-person instruction must meet the Department of Education’s “Checklist for Re-Opening of School 2020-2021” and detailed in “The Road Back: Restart and Recovery Plan for Education” which include, but are not limited to the following:

a. At least six (6) feet of distance between individuals in all settings to the greatest extent practicable or social distancing modifications, such as a physical barrier or turning desks to face the same direction, when six (6) feet of distance cannot be achieved;
b. Mandatory use of face coverings by staff, students, and visitors, except in the following circumstances:

  • When doing so would inhibit the individual’s health;
  • When the individual is exposed to extreme heat outdoors;
  • When the individual has trouble breathing, is unconscious, incapacitated, or otherwise unable to remove a face covering without assistance;
  • When a student’s documented medical condition or disability, as reflected in an Individualized Education Program (IEP) or Educational Plan pursuant to Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, precludes the use of a face covering;
  • When the individual is under two (2) years of age;
  • When the individual is eating or drinking;
  • When the individual is engaged in high-intensity aerobic or anaerobic activity;
  • When a student is participating in high-intensity physical activities during a physical education class in a well-ventilated location and able to maintain a physical distance of six feet from all other individuals;
  • When a student, as part of music instruction, is playing an instrument that would be obstructed by the face covering; or
  • When wearing a face covering creates an unsafe condition in which to operate equipment or execute a task.

c. Routine cleaning and sanitization of classrooms, lunchrooms, gymnasiums, restrooms, high-trafficked areas such as hallways, high-touch areas such as light switches and door knobs, and shared surfaces;
d. The facilitation of student hand washing at frequent intervals, or use of alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not readily available;
e. Use of face coverings and social distancing procedures to the extent practicable and cleaning protocols on school buses if students are bussed to and from school;
f. Student and staff health screenings;
g. Implementation of enhanced social distancing and infection control protocols for music, choir, and physical education classes that are conducted in indoor spaces, particularly where students are not wearing face coverings;
h. A plan for response to students and staff that exhibit symptoms of COVID-19, which must include coordination with the local health department and procedures for isolating symptomatic students and staff;
i. A plan detailing the response when students and/or staff test positive for COVID-19, which must include coordination with the local health department and procedures for isolating any students or staff who learn of a positive test result while on school grounds;
j. Coordination with the local health department to support contact tracing efforts;
k. A plan to ensure that indoor facilities have adequate ventilation;
l. Implementation of social distancing and infection control practices during recess and physical education periods; and
m. Procedures for resumption of athletics programs and extracurriculars, if applicable.

HIGHER EDUCATION PLANS

Effective immediately, degree-granting institutions of higher education may resume all in-person instruction not previously permitted in Executive Order No. 155 (EO 155 allowed opening of in person limited college instruction as of June).

Institutions must provide students with the option of participation via remote instruction to the extent practicable.

In resuming in-person instruction, a degree-granting institution of higher education shall continue to adhere to the requirements of Paragraph 4 of Executive Order No. 155 as addressed in the restart plan submitted by the institution to OSHE, and any other requirements established by Order, statute, or regulation.

REOPENING PLAN REQUIREMENTS

Public school districts shall submit a reopening plan (the “Plan”) to the DOE (County Superintendents) at minimum thirty days prior to the first day of school. A public-school district that has already submitted such Plan pursuant to the standards outlined in “The Road Back: Restart and Recovery Plan for Education” will be considered to have satisfied this requirement if the Plan is otherwise consistent with the requirements of this Order.

BOARD POLICIES AND PROCEDURES

In addition to the Plan, a minimum of seven days prior to the first day of school, the chief school administrator or his/her designee must also certify to the Department of Education that the district has policies and procedures in place to meet the minimum health and safety standards.

What Policies Need to Be Addressed:

School districts that resume partial or full-time in-person instruction shall permit students to engage in full-time remote learning upon the request of a parent or guardian, subject to the Department of Education’s July 24, 2020 “Clarifying Expectations Regarding Full-time Remote Learning Options for Families in 2020-2021.” School districts must implement a policy that, at a minimum, addresses the following:

n. Unconditional eligibility for full-time remote learning;
o. Procedures for parent or guardian submission of full-time remote learning requests;
p. The scope and expectations of full-time remote learning;
q. Procedures to transition from full-time remote learning to in-person instruction and services;
r. Reporting data to the Department of Education regarding participation in full-time remote learning. Data must include number of students participating in full-time remote learning by each of the following subgroups: economically disadvantaged; major racial and ethnic groups; students with disabilities; and English learners; and
s. Procedures for communicating the school district’s full-time remote learning policy to school district families.

INSTRUCTIONAL REQUIREMENTS FOR ALL LEARNING ENVIRONMENTS

All instruction, whether in-person instruction or remote instruction, for the 2020-2021 year shall adhere to the following requirements, and any other requirements imposed by Order, statute, or regulation:

  • A school day, whether in-person or remote must consist of at least four (4) hours of active instruction to students by an appropriately certified teacher, except that one continuous session of two and one-half hours may be considered a full day in kindergarten, pursuant to N.J.A.C. 6A:32-8.3.
  • District and school policies for attendance and instructional contact time will need to accommodate opportunities for both synchronous and asynchronous instruction, while ensuring the requirements for a 180-day school year are met pursuant to N.J.S.A. 18A:7F-9.
  • All instructional time shall be provided in accordance with the New Jersey Student Learning Standards.

HIGHER EDUCATION INSTRUCTIONAL REQUIREMENTS

Effective immediately, degree-granting institutions of higher education may resume all in-person instruction not previously permitted in Executive Order No. 155.
Institutions must provide students with the option of participation via remote instruction to the extent practicable.

In resuming in-person instruction, a degree-granting institution of higher education shall continue to adhere to the requirements of Paragraph 4 of Executive Order No. 155 as addressed in the restart plan submitted by the institution to the OSHE, and any other requirements established by Order, statute, or regulation.

Nothing in Paragraph 13 of this Order shall be construed to preclude degree-granting institutions of higher education from continuing to provide instruction and services to students and members of the public in a form other than in-person instruction.

OPTION TO GO REMOTE

Public school districts that are or become unable to satisfy the health and safety requirements for in-person instruction, may provide full-time remote instruction to all students pursuant to N.J.S.A. 18A:7F-9.

PROOF THAT IN-PERSON INSTRUCTION CANNOT BE PROVIDED

Public school districts that determine that they cannot provide in-person instruction must submit documentation to the Department of Education that identifies

a. The school building(s) or grade level(s) within the district that will provide full-time remote instruction;
b. The specific health and safety standard(s) that the school is unable to satisfy;
c. The school’s anticipated efforts to satisfy the identified health and safety standard(s); and
d. A date by which the school anticipates the resumption of in-person instruction.

Such documentation must be submitted at minimum one week prior to the public-school district’s first day of school.

MONITORING OF REMOTE ONLY DISTRICTS

Executive County Superintendents shall request periodic updates from the chief school administrator of a public school district offering only remote instruction to demonstrate that the school district is actively engaged in good-faith efforts towards the resumption of in-person instruction.

ASSESSSMENTS/TEACHER EVALUATION

For the 2020-2021 school year, N.J.S.A. 18A:6-123(b)(2) and (4) shall be waived and student growth data based on standardized assessment or student growth percentile shall not be used as a measure of educator effectiveness in the overall evaluation of any educator.

EO 117 cancelled standardized testing for the 2019-20 school year so there is no way to measure student growth through multiple objective measures. But because overall educator evaluations include additional categories that remain unaffected by the cancellation of statewide assessments for the Spring 2020 testing window and thus will serve as accurate measures of teacher performance for the 2020-2021 school year.

CAFETERIAS/MEALS

Cafeterias in public and private school buildings and colleges are essential and are not open to the public in the same manner as traditional indoor dining establishments, thus creating decreased risk of transmission of COVID-19 when appropriate health and safety protocols are in place.

All school districts participating in the National School Lunch and Breakfast Programs, regardless of whether they are required to participate or voluntarily opt-in to the programs, must offer the required meals to all children, regardless of eligibility, when the school day involves at least four hours of in-person or remote instruction.

HIGHER EDUCATION DINING

Paragraph 8 of Executive Order No. 107, which prohibits in-person dining at certain establishments that are open to the public, shall not apply to school district cafeterias or dining halls operated by degree-granting institutions of higher education, provided that social distancing can be maintained and access is limited to staff and students and is not available to the public.

In-person dining at degree-granting institutions of higher education shall continue to adhere to the requirements of Paragraph 4 of Executive Order No. 155 as addressed in the restart plan submitted by the institution to the Office of the Secretary of Higher Education. Such cafeterias and dining halls must adhere to infection control practices outlined for dining in the applicable reopening documents issued by the Department of Education and the Office of the Secretary of Higher Education.

ENFORCEMENT

The State Director of Emergency Management, who is the Superintendent of State Police, shall have the discretion to make additions, amendments, clarifications, exceptions, and exclusions to the terms of this Order.

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