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New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy Gives The OK For Schools To Reopen

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New Jersey Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy announced Wednesday, through an executive order, that public and private schools, as well as colleges and universities, are clear to open for in-person classes this fall.

The announcement comes as New Jersey continues to see a decline in new coronavirus cases, with the New Jersey Department of Health reporting less than 500 new cases as of Wednesday.

“We have held ongoing discussions with the leaders throughout our higher education system and we believe they are ready for this step,” Murphy said during a news conference, according to Reuters.

Schools will be allowed to open on a county-by-county basis, based with Murphy tweeting there’s no “one-size-fits-all” approach to reopening.

The counties will report a risk assessment each week that tracks how many cases they have and whether or not that number is substantial enough to shut schools down, according to NBC10. Schools that have high risk will return to remote-learning until it’s safe to return to in-person classes.

Face masks and must social distance will be required for all schools reopening.

The announcement is receiving pushback from the state’s largest teachers union and two educators’ unions. The New Jersey Association of School Administrators (NJASA), New Jersey Principals and Supervisors Association (NJPSA) and the New Jersey Education Association (NJEA), all wrote a letter to the governor asking him to reconsider.

“…With less than a month remaining before schools are scheduled to reopen, it is time to reluctantly acknowledge that goal is simply not achievable. Reopening schools for in-person instruction under the current conditions poses too great a risk to the health of students and school staff…the stakes are too high, and the consequences of a wrong decision are too grave,” according to the letter written by the unions.

In Elizabeth, New Jersey, the school board voted Monday to start the school year without in-person classes after hundreds of teachers expressed concerns about returning to in-person classes. The New Jersey Department of Education will have to approve the plan, according to NBC10.