At a time when the pandemic is demonstrating the importance of online learning, the New Jersey School Boards Association, in partnership with the New Jersey Department of Education and Sustainable Jersey, is launching a new initiative to help districts assess and improve their ability to deliver online services to students.

During a June 2 Facebook Live presentation, the NJSBA unveiled the Sustainable Jersey Digital Schools program, which will include guidance on how to meet the challenges of emergency remote digital learning during pandemic conditions. The program will also show districts how to implement equitable, effective remote digital learning practices, and provide a framework for the preparation of students for successful lives and careers in a technology-infused world.

“The importance of digital and remote learning to sustainability and resiliency has never been more evident as now, when schools across the state are faced with the need to address learning during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Dr. Lawrence S. Feinsod, NJSBA executive director. “We are excited to work with the New Jersey Department of Education and Sustainable Jersey for Schools in launching the Digital Schools program to assist schools in meeting this unprecedented challenge.”

New Jersey Commissioner of Education Dr. Lamont Repollet stressed how important it is that all students have access to the online resources they need.

“The New Jersey Department of Education is committed to expanding local school districts’ capacity for digital learning and ensuring that all students have access to the resources necessary for instruction in a digital age, whether in school or remotely,” said Repollet. “The digital divide is a longstanding equity issue brought front and center by the recent health-related school closures. The new Digital Schools program will play an important role in advancing a path to resolving this critical issue here in New Jersey.”

The New Jersey Department of Education (NJDOE), and Sustainable Jersey, with the support of New Jersey Leadership for Educational Excellence (LEE), are joining the NJSBA to announce the formation of the Sustainable Jersey Digital Schools program. The Digital Schools program, built on the proud legacy of Future Ready Schools – New Jersey (FRS-NJ), will provide a new slate of actions, resources, and programming within the successful Sustainable Jersey for Schools initiative.

The program will be administered by the Sustainability Institute at The College of New Jersey. Laurence Cocco, former director of educational technology at the NJDOE, has been named senior program consultant for the Digital Schools program.

The original partners of the FRS-NJ program, NJSBA and NJDOE, have agreed to formally separate New Jersey’s program from the Future Ready Schools national brand (a subsidiary of the non-profit Alliance for Excellent Education). The change will enable our state’s program to more effectively link its content and standards to New Jersey-specific priorities, programs and resources.

The Digital Schools program will continue the legacy of the highly successful FRS-NJ program, which certified 259 schools from 76 New Jersey school districts as “Future Ready.”  FRS-NJ content and resources will be reformatted to reflect the criteria established by the successful Sustainable Jersey for Schools program. The transition will strengthen the program’s mission of supporting schools, educators and students in meeting the challenges of digital learning.  Educational stakeholders will be included in the transition process to ensure that the program’s integrity, authenticity and efficacy are preserved and enhanced.

As part of Sustainable Jersey for Schools, the program will feature increased professional staff support, detailed guidance material, training, technical assistance, and access to ancillary funding sources.

“Education is a pillar of sustainability,” said Randall E. Solomon, director of the Sustainability Institute at The College of New Jersey. “Students have to master technology to become productive citizens, educators must master technology to become effective teachers, and schools must become adept at using technology to address distance learning and communications with parents and communities.”

He continued, “COVID-19 has also shown us how disparities in access to technology among students and schools are exacerbating existing social inequality. The Digital Schools program will provide schools, teachers, and parents with a roadmap for how to ensure technology is used appropriately to bring about a sustainable future.”

Watch a recording of the NJSBA Live Facebook event, which explains more about the program.

For more information, contact Randall E. Solomon at (609) 771-2290 or