Meeting the Challenges of the 2020-2021 School Year
As a service to our members, the New Jersey School Boards Association has developed this resource center to provide information useful to districts during this challenging school year.
We remind you that NJSBA’s staff members are available to answer questions, offer guidance, and provide the Association’s direct services to boards of education. Contact information is available here.
Vaccine Eligibility for K-12 Educators and School Support Staff Effective March 2, 2021, Governor Murphy has directed that all preschool and K-12 educators, including support staff, are now eligible to receive COVID-19 vaccinations. These individuals should consult the State’s COVID-19 Information Hub for more information regarding registration and vaccination locations.
Educating the Whole Child
Online and Distance Learning
Virtual Learning Toolkit: Resources for Families and Teachers The NJDOE offers information and supports to help students, parents and teachers effectively adjust to online instruction.
Unlock Student Potential: The Library Is Open! The N.J. Association of School Librarians and the N.J. Library Association offer virtual services to students and families.
Family, Teacher, and Technology Resources Resources for students, families and teachers to enhance remote and online learning.
Health and Wellness
Hunger Free New Jersey: Hunger & Coronavirus Crisis The website provides information about the state and federal response to help schools feed students during school closures, and about how people can keep and apply for food assistance. Includes a fact sheet about a program to help families buy food for children. Posted Nov. 30.
Ensuring Children Have Access to Nutritious Meals During COVID-19 School Closures Recent guidance and information from the Food Research and Action Center.
Supporting Social-Emotional Wellness in the Midst of the Pandemic From School Leader magazine, a conversation with Dr. Matthew Murphy, superintendent of the Ramsey school district, and a long-time advocate for mental health services.
National Association of School Psychologists: COVID-19 Resource Center The organization offers a variety of resources for school districts to support the learning and well-being of students, their families and others in the school community. Posted Nov. 30.
CASEL Cares: COVID Resources Resources from the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL) to support educators, parents and anyone who works with children during COVID-19. Posted Dec. 1
National Child Traumatic Stress Network Pandemic Resources NCTSN, created by Congress in 2000, offers information and resources for educators, parents and caregivers on helping children and school staff cope with the COVID-19 crisis. Reposted Dec. 1
After a Loss: Resources for School Districts NJSBA provides county-by-county contact information for the Traumatic Loss Coalitions for Youth and other mental health-related resources that school districts can consult during a tragedy. Reposted Dec. 1
Parental Waivers for the Delivery of Remote or Virtual Special Education Services An April 30, 2020 memo from the N.J. Department of Education states that require a waiver of present or future claims as a condition to implement a student’s IEP is prohibited.
Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder: Practical Resources During the Pandemic The N.J. Department of Education lists resources available to teachers and parents during this period of remote learning and social distancing.
Arts Ed NJ Issues New Guidance for Arts Education During the Pandemic Arts Ed NJ, an arts education resource, policy and advocacy organization, has released updated guidance to help schools safely deliver arts instruction to students during the pandemic.
Notice of State Board Approval of Remote Delivery of Special Education and Related Services The State Board approved a temporary rule modifying the provision of special education services during the current state of emergency; originally posted May 1.
- NJSBA Special Reports
- Advocacy Agenda
- Family, Teacher, and Techology Resources
NJSBA Special Reports
Eye on the Future as Districts MonitorStudent Mental Health The fourth in a series of special reports on education during the pandemic explores the psychological impacts that the coronavirus has had on school-age children. Issued Jan. 27, 2021.
Reopening Schools: Online Learning and the Digital Divide The third in a series of special reports on education during the pandemic, this report looks at challenges facing school districts in providing remote instruction, including overcoming the digital divide caused by shortages of devices and lack of broadband connectivity. Issued Oct. 23, 2020.
Choosing the Best Road Back for Our Students The second in a series of NJSBA special reports offers an Advocacy Agenda for Public Education during the Pandemic, as well as a summary of school district reopening plans and the challenges they face in 2020-2021. Issued Aug. 31, 2020.
Searching for a New Normal: A Special Report on the Reopening of New Jersey’s Schools The NJSBA report addresses the safe reopening of schools, students’ mental health, academic and extracurricular programs, budgetary issues, and preparations for the future. Issued May 20, 2020.
Scenes from the COVID-19 Spring Learning—and life—looked a lot different last spring, after schools were closed in March 2020. This photo feature provides a glimpse of how New Jersey carried on connecting with and educating its students.
Updated Sample Policies on Visitors, Transportation, Health Examinations and Immunizations The NJSBA Policy Services provides updated documents, reflecting the new requirement that students wear face coverings at all times. Posted August 14.
Virtual Board Meetings and COVID-19 NJSBA’s Policy Service offers a sample policy addressing electronic participation by members and the public during the current health crisis.
The following NJSBA sample policies may be of assistance to districts:
- 9322 Public and Executive Sessions – Virtual Board Meetings and COVID-19
- 5141.2 Illness – Covers control of contagious diseases or conditions, amended to cover contact tracing.
- 4112.4 Health — Exposure control plan and bloodborne pathogens.
- 5141 Health – Covers preparation for the potential disruption of a pandemic flu outbreak, and includes a link to federal resources on pandemic influenza.
- 6173 – Home instruction during the prolonged absence.
- 1250 Visitors – Amended to prohibit most visitors during the pandemic recovery.
- 3510 Operation and Maintenance of Plant, amended to include cleaning and disinfecting procedures for facilities and school buses.3541.33 Transportation- Amended to include an overview of cleaning, disinfecting, and social distancing on school buses.
5141.3 Health Examinations and Immunizations – Amended to cover screening, personal protective equipment, and social distancing.
School Board Meetings and Executive Order 173 NJSBA staff attorneys address the question of whether school board meetings are exempt from new restrictions on indoor gatherings. Published Sept. 1.
A New Issue for Boards of Education: Contagion Transmission Liability An article by the New Jersey School Boards Association legal staff addresses factors school districts should take into account and discuss with their counsel as they plan to reopen.
A Pandemic Advocacy Agenda An NJSBA report says schools need funding, protection from liability, and strong support for technology now and in the future.
Code of Conduct for Remote School Board Meetings NJSBA’s Field Services staff has developed a sample Code of Conduct providing guidance for remote public meetings and executive sessions. Local boards can download the document and adapt it as needed.
Tips for Remote Board Meetings Many school boards are conducting meetings via videoconference or livestreaming for the first time. Here are tips for board members to look and sound their best online.
Responding to the Coronavirus A resource page from the National School Boards Association.
NJSIAA Return-to-Sports Plan, 2020-2021 The governing organization for interscholastic athletics issues detailed schedules for fall and winter sports, including a contingency plan if the fall season cannot be completed. Posted Aug. 24.
Johns Hopkins University Eschool+ Initiative This special project provides an analysis of education recovery plans in the 50 states. Posted Sept. 25
Fall 2020 Guidance for Arts Education (updated August 6) Arts Ed NJ updates its guidance on the safe provision of arts instruction, based on the second preliminary findings of the University of Colorado’s Aerosol Dispersion in Music study. According to the research, classroom music, theatre, speech, debate and dance classes may be held in person following proper mitigation. Posted Aug. 7.
September Ready Fall 2020 Guidance for Arts Education A comprehensive, 126-page document from Arts Ed NJ offers practical guidance for educators and reinforces the New Jersey Student Learning Standards for Visual and Performing Arts. Posted July 10
COVID-19 Building Readiness/Reopening Guidance ASHRAE, a professional society of environmental engineers specializing in HVAC systems, offers guidance on reopening buildings following closures due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Posted May 27.
National School Public Relations Association/ Blackboard COVID-19 Best Practices, Tips and Resources Includes “The Coronavirus Communications Crisis for Public Schools;” examples of COVID-19 communications from public schools; “Communicating to Your Communities During COVID-10: Top 10 Important Tips,” and other resources.
Broadband Options: COVID-19 Information on acquiring broadband service for students at home.
Additional Technology Resources A collection of free online resources, curated with help from our NJSBA TEC partners.
State and Federal Guidance
Coronavirus Relief Fund Grant Applications In a Sept. 23 memo, the NJDOE provides authorized school administrators with access to individual district allocations, a list of permissible uses and a link to guidance from the U.S. Department of the Treasury. Funds must be encumbered or spent by Dec. 30, 2020. Posted Sept. 25
Educator Evaluation Guidance 2020-2021 The NJDOE released guidance on evaluating educators, taking into account the various instructional platforms being implemented during the pandemic. Posted Sept. 25
Guidance on Executive Order No. 175 The NJDOE on Aug. 29 released further guidance on complying with Executive Order 175, which allows school districts to begin the academic year on an all-virtual basis if health standards cannot be met. The document contains links to forms required for the submission of school district reopening plans. It also addresses the length of the school year and school day, as well as the National School Lunch and Breakfast Program. Posted Aug. 29.
Statement of Assurance The NJDOE posted a new “Statement of Assurance,” to be completed by district superintendents as part of the school reopening plan process. The Statement of Assurance replaces the “Attestation,” a previously required document about which the NJSBA and the NJASA raised serious concerns. Posted Aug. 29.
CDC Updated School Guidelines The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issues updated guidance on school operations during the pandemic, with additional consideration for ventilation, food services and students with special needs. Posted Aug. 24.
COVID-19 Public Health Recommendations for Local Health Departments for K-12 Schools Detailed guidance from the state Department of Health (released 8/13) addresses illness in the school setting, closing of schools, cleaning/disinfecting, actions when a student or staff member test positive, daily symptom screening, and other factors. It also establishes a “risk matrix” based on transmission rates and other health data that will guide school districts in determining if in-person instruction can continue and to what extent. Posted Aug. 14.
In-Person, All-Remote Reopening Criteria Executive Order 175, signed by the governor on August 13, establishes health and safety requirements for in-person instruction and allows school districts to begin the academic year with virtual-only instruction if they are unable to meet the health standards. Posted Aug. 14.
Meal Service during All Phases of ReopeningThe N.J. Department of Agriculture provides details on the requirements that school districts must meet when providing meals to students who qualify for free and reduced-price lunch. Issued Aug. 7.
School Reopening Frequently Asked Questions In a new document, the New Jersey Departments of Education and Health provide responses to questions dealing with face coverings, screening and testing, social distancing, contact tracing, restart plan development and submission, scheduling, and special education. Posted Aug. 7.
Supplemental Guidance: Clarifying Expectations Regarding Full-time Remote Learning Options for Families in 2020-2021 This NJ Department of Education document addresses the virtual-only option, which must be offered to parents. Posted July 27.
The Road Back: Restart and Recovery Plan for Education The NJ Department of Education issues a 104-page blueprint to guide the reopening of the state’s public schools in September. Posted June 26.
FAQ: Federal Families First Coronavirus Response Act The U.S. Department of Labor provides important information for school districts and other employers covered by the federal legislation. In addition, the State Department of Labor and Workforce Development addresses the applicability of the CARES Act to New Jersey workers and the payroll tax credit available to covered employers under the Families First Act. Posted April 8.