TRENTON, NJ -- Gov. Phil Murphy announced Thursday that he would sign an Executive Order officially clearing both public and nonpublic pre-K through 12 schools, as well as colleges and universities, to reopen for the upcoming academic year. However, any student who chooses to continue remote learning must be accommodated.

"In-person instruction may fully resume as long as social distancing and other protections are strictly adhered to," Murphy said.

The governor also directed that any school districts that cannot meet all health and safety standards for safe in-person instruction, as directed by the New Jersey Department of Education, will begin their school year with all-remote learning. In order to do so, the public school district must show plans for satisfying the standards and provide an anticipated date to resume in-person instruction.

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"Our commitment to meeting the conditions on the ground with flexibility has not changed. Our focus on protecting students, families, and educators has not changed. 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."

New Jersey’s system of education has long been rooted in local control and decision-making based on local input, Murphy said, and that for the past six weeks "we’ve relied upon the work of local educational communities to determine the best way for their schools to reopen."

"We’ve provided significant flexibility while also adjusting expectations based on the latest science and data," Murphy added. "At every twist and turn in the road, we’ve been willing to listen, to learn, and to act accordingly. This clear principle has guided us from the very start – we are flexible because we value listening. We are listening because we value flexibility."

"There is no one-size-fits-all plan to this difficult education situation," Murphy said. "We are home to nearly 600 public school districts, plus charter & renaissance schools, nonpublic & parochial schools, and other specialized places of learning. Each one faces its own unique challenges."

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