Calls to bring virtual learning option to NJ grow louder as school start nears

Reopening Schools

NEW JERSEY — With the first day of school just a week away, Gov. Phil Murphy shows no signs of slowing down, announcing a state inventory of more than 6 million surgical masks ready to be dispersed among schools.

“We will make these masks available to all districts at no charge,” he said during his press briefing Monday.

What’s not on the agenda – a remote learning option, which has left many families dreading the upcoming school year. 

“Why are we setting these kids up for failure, why are we setting these teachers up for failure?” Karen Strauss, a co-founder of the group NJ Parents For Virtual Choice, told PIX11 News.

The campaign was launched to sway Murphy to make remote learning an option for families. In just a month, the support for their coalition has swelled. An online petition has garnered nearly 25,000 signatures.

“Last year we scrambled,” Strauss said. “All of a sudden, the talk was ‘oh we are just going to close for two weeks.’ Well now it’s a year and a half and we still haven’t learned to prepare.”

As COVID cases continue to rise in the Garden State, where another 1,327 new positive tests were reported Monday, calls to reinstate a virtual learning plan are growing louder.

For mom Lauren Murphy, the issue is heart wrenching. Her 7-year-old son Trey is terrified to return to the classroom, concerned over not only being exposed to the virus, but also about spreading it to his 4-year-old sister MacKenzie, who is currently being treated for acute lymphoblastic leukemia.

What the mom wants is an exemption.

“There are people who are immune compromised you know, and their lives matter just as much as everybody else’s is do so can we try to protect them as much as we can,” she said.

As of Monday, Gov. Murphy showed no signs of reversing course.

Meanwhile, the New Jersey Parents For Virtual Choice organization will be holding a 12-hour virtual rally this Wednesday. They are encouraging families and teachers who have their concerns about the upcoming school year to take part and tell their stories.

More information is on the group’s Facebook page.

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