HOBOKEN - The current national debate regarding education policy during COVID-19 has schools at the local level weighing their options.

"American investment in education is a promise to students and their families. If schools aren't going to reopen and not fulfill that promise, they shouldn't get the funds, and give it to the families to decide to go to a school that is going to meet that promise," Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos told Fox News Sunday. However, the Secretary has yet to outline a plan and has made no direct comments on how and on what authority school funds would possibly be withheld. "There's going to be the exception to the rule, but the rule should be that kids go back to school this fall," said DeVos. "And where there are little flare-ups or hot spots, that can be dealt with on a school by school or a case by case basis."

Concerns over health and safety for students and staff alike are putting significant pressure on administrations to make the right decisions. In Hoboken, School Superintendent Dr. Christine Johnson has indicated that she will look to the State of New Jersey for its guidance when plotting a path forward this fall.

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"As you know, Governor Murphy made an announcement over a week ago regarding the reopening of schools and what that might look like in September," said Dr. Johnson, in a letter to Hoboken parents. "The Governor and Commissioner of Education indicated that each local school district in New Jersey would be provided with a copy of 'The Road Back: Restart and Recovery Plan for Education' and from there have approximately thirty days to design their own local plans."

With parents anxious to hear what the Fall may bring, Johnson maintains that there are still decisions to be made regarding traditional in-person schooling and virtual learning.

"I want to make it very clear that we have not completed these plans as of yet and we certainly have not selected one," said Johnson. "If we have the ability to open safely either using a full day, traditional onsite model or a 50% capacity onsite model, we will do so."

Based on experiences over the past few months, Johnson said the school is retooling its virtual learning model. "We are committed to capitalizing on elements that we identified as in need of improvement between March and June and maintaining the many elements that worked well."

Parents can expect a survey within the next week, with a decision likely to be announced by the end of July.

Here's the Superintendent's Letter in full:

As you know, Governor Murphy made an announcement over a week ago regarding the reopening of schools and what that might look like in September. The Governor and Commissioner of Education indicated that each local school district in New Jersey would be provided with a copy of "The Road Back: Restart and Recovery Plan for Education" and from there have approximately thirty days to design their own local plans. We have received this document.
 
There are broad-based health and wellness parameters that every district needs to follow and meet. While each district's plan will look different due to a variety of variables, it is certain that all plans will need to strike a balance between onsite traditional learning and remote learning.
 
The document, "The Road Back: Restart and Recovery Plan for Education" did clarify some questions but not all. It is such a broad framework. It does not indicate which potential option for opening is most recommend or if the Governor has any intention of closing schools again in September.
 
The Hoboken Public School District will be prepared regardless. We are exploring every possible option and designing comprehensive plans for each. I want to make it very clear that we have not completed these plans as of yet and we certainly have not selected one. If we have the ability to open safely either using a full day, traditional onsite model or a 50% capacity onsite model, we will do so. And, if that is the case, we will be as flexible as possible by providing families the choice of selecting the onsite model that we implement or selecting to stay on a remote learning model. That flexibility is not being discussed in many other districts, but I do feel it is critical to provide families with an option that is most comfortable.
 
We are also redesigning our remote learning model. We are committed to capitalizing on elements that we identified as in need of improvement between March and June and maintaining the many elements that worked well.
 
All plans must be submitted to the New Jersey Department of Education, 30 days prior to the first planning opening day of school. That means that all districts are knee deep in planning right now. My goal is to have another survey go out to all families between July 18th and July 27th and publish our completed plan with our options by July 28th or shortly thereafter.

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