ELIZABETH, NJ — The Elizabeth School District has voted to begin school in September with 100 percent remote learning, citing health and safety reasons.
“I have over 375 teachers who have painstakingly communicated with me their passion for education and their fear of this dreadful virus,” said Elizabeth Superintendent Olga Hugelmeyer at the Monday night meeting. “We are in a position where we need to support everyone in our organization. We need to do what is right for our children. We need to do what is right for our team members. We need to make the right decision until it is safe to return to schools.”
Due to teachers not wanting to return to school and other factors, in-person instruction will be severely impacted, Hugelmeyer said.
A survey sent to parents also found that 59 percent of parents said they would not send their children to school in September while 41 percent said they would send their children to school.
The Elizabeth case may have influenced Gov. Phil Murphy now that he’s expected to announce that districts have the option to go fully remote. The governor’s office told CBS News that towns such as Elizabeth are now permitted to take that course. Read More: WATCH LIVE: Gov. Murphy’s NJ Coronavirus, School Reopen Update
Hugelmeyer recommended that schools reopen on Sept. 11 under a full-time remote learning model. The district will then re-evaluate the situation at the end of the first marking period based on health conditions at the time.
“It became a mathematical impossibility. The superintendent, staff and Board of Education worked hundreds of hours, through Monday afternoon to try to meet the directive from Governor Murphy and the Department of Education to open schools,” Pat Politano, spokesman for the Elizabeth School District, said. “It becomes clear that it’s pointless to pursue an impossibility. Instead, the district will spend the next month working to make remote learning the best it can possibly be.”
Depending on those conditions, phase 2 or an in-person hybrid model would then implemented.
“The safety for all of our team members and students is our first priority,” Hugelmeyer said. “It is important to note that in order to provide in-person instruction we need to be absolutely firm on all of the public health indicators.”
The BOE voted in favor of the full-time remote learning model on Monday night. While this plan goes against state guidelines, it will need to be approved by the state Department of Education.
See below to watch the entire Elizabeth BOE meeting:
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This article originally appeared on the Scotch Plains-Fanwood Patch