It has been exactly one month since Governor Murphy announced that New Jersey schools would close as of March 18, 2020. Since then, the New Jersey education system has embarked on arguably one of the largest changes that it has ever experienced. Over the span of just one month: districts have mobilized to distribute food and devices, educators are teaching lessons on virtual platforms, and parents have adjusted to a new world of working and teaching at home. More recently, temporary statewide testing and educator evaluation flexibility have been issued, graduation requirements have been relaxed, and task forces have been formulated.
Today marks another landmark date for the New Jersey education system: Governor Murphy announced that schools will stay closed through at least May 15. This will give the state at least “one more shot to reassess” whether schools can reopen this year, Murphy stated.
As we all digest the new reality of virtual and remote education, JerseyCAN is actively considering the short and long-term implications of COVID-related changes on New Jersey’s educational system.
- Now that statewide testing has been cancelled, how will districts assess the learning that has occurred during this time so that they can adjust curriculum to differentiate instruction and meet the needs of all students when schools return, whenever that may be?
- How will the decision to push back the fiscal year and tax revenues impact school aid for school year 2020-21? How will this impact facilities and operational funding, in what we expect could be an already tight budget?
- Since testing centers that administer teacher licensure exams are closed, what will the supply of teachers look like in the fall? Will the current deficits in hard-to-staff areas further widen?
- What best practices are being collected now so that if schools open virtually or need to shift to virtual learning again, we can learn from successes and shortcomings from the first time around?
- How will districts leverage the newly developed and honed 21st century skillsets of teachers and students to evolve their practice and provide a better learning experience for all students? And how do we provide effective special education services, counseling, therapy, and other support services for students?
Furthermore, while we have said it before and we still believe, we are proud of the response and collaboration of our educational community. But we are also keeping an eye on what national organizations are saying about New Jersey’s response as compared to other states. Education Reform Now evaluated states on how quickly and clearly states mobilized in the face of unprecedented interruptions to classroom learning. We are actively considering what can we learn from other states and their responses so that we can continuously improve our response for the benefit of students.
While we digest the Governor’s most recent announcement, we will continue to celebrate educators and advocate for students. We hope you will continue to stay in the loop and follow along. As always, we welcome your feedback.