Thirteen months after the pandemic first arrived in New Jersey, there are signs of progress.

Consider:

  • About 20% of the school districts in New Jersey have now elected to offer in-person, full-time schooling.
  • The state’s 10 largest districts have elected for a mixture of remote and mixed models, according to NJ.com. Newark, the biggest public school district in New Jersey, began offering in-person education on April 12 after more than a year of all-remote schooling for its 39,000 students. About 14,300 students, or 40% of its population, returned to their classrooms under strict safety guidelines, according to an NJSpotlightNews report.
  • Edison, New Jersey’s largest suburban school district in Middlesex County, is planning to restart in-person education this school year.

“…There is now unmistakable movement back into our classrooms, and I know that for students and educators and for moms and dads and countless families, this is a tremendous positive sign and a great relief,” Gov. Phil Murphy said at an April 12 coronavirus press briefing, the same day Newark opened its schools for in-person instruction.

In another sign of progress, on April 19 all adults 16 and older became eligible for the vaccine – affecting more than 100,000 high school students in the state.

Sixteen- and 17-year-olds are only eligible for the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. The Moderna vaccine was not tested on people under the age of 18 prior to getting emergency approval for use from the federal government.

Murphy had announced earlier in the month that vaccines would be available to all adults on April 19 as his administration presses forward with its goal of vaccinating 70% of eligible adults by June 30.

If the goal, ultimately, is to return to pre-virus times, there’s still a way to go.

Of the large schools currently virtual, two do not have plans to bring students back. Paterson canceled a May 1 reentry date and has not established a new one, while Passaic has said it will remain virtual for the rest of the year. Both schools cited current virus loads for keeping students home, NJ.com reported.

As the situation evolves, School Board Notes will continue, in the weeks and months ahead, to provide updates on how the coronavirus is affecting education in the Garden State.

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