On Tuesday, July 28, NJSBA released a new policy, 6173.1, Remote Learning, which was compiled to assist districts in complying with recent guidance from the New Jersey Department of Education (NJDOE) on full-time remote learning for the 2020-2021 school year. The policy, which can be found here, addresses methods of virtual instruction, the length of the school day, procedures for requesting full-time remote instruction, transition from full-time remote instruction to in-person instruction, and communication with parents, among other subjects. 

On July 24, the NJDOE released “Supplemental Guidance: Clarifying Expectations Regarding Full-Time Remote Learning Options for Families in 2020-2021.” The supplemental guidance follows Gov. Murphy’s announcement that parents must be offered the option of all-virtual instruction for the new school year. 

Under the new NJDOE guidelines, districts must make distance learning available to all students; eligibility cannot be conditioned on a family or guardian demonstrating a risk of illness or other selective criteria.  

Districts must also:  

  • Clearly define procedures that a family must follow to submit a request for full-time remote learning; 
  • Define the procedures to transition from full-time remote learning to in-person services; 
  • Offer students in the full-time remote learning the same quality and scope of instruction and other educational services as any other student participating in district programs, including special education and related services “to the greatest extent possible”; 
  • Report to the NJDOE data regarding participation in full-time remote learning; and   
  • Define procedures for communicating district policy to families.  

While the new NJSBA policy details sample procedures to comply with the NJDOE guidance, boards of education are not required to adopt a policy for compliance with state and federal law. NJSBA suggests that the content of the policy be customized to reflect each district’s practices; the document should be reviewed by the board attorney.