TRENTON - Recognizing the educational and social-emotional value to students of resuming in-person instruction, the New Jersey Department of Education June 12 released guidance for school districts to conduct summer educational programming in-person, including Extended School Year (ESY).
“This is a crucial step that allows schools to plan summer learning programs and special education services that will provide assistance to those students who need it the most,” stated Education Commissioner Lamont O. Repollet. “We’ve heard from countless parents and educators about the importance of summer learning and ESY, especially now that so many students and families have faced unexpected obstacles with remote learning over the past three months. We believe schools can provide the necessary summer instruction while ensuring the safety of students and teachers, and their families.”
According to a release, in-person programs are permitted to begin on or after July 6 and must follow all applicable health and safety protocols. Districts that have planned for remote learning may still proceed with virtual instruction for both ESY and other summer learning opportunities for students. Summer learning may include strategies such as traditional summer school; ESY programming with individualized instruction for students with special needs; credit-recovery programs that allow students to retake coursework or obtain credits needed for graduation; migrant education; programs for English language learners; 21st Century Community Learning Centers that offer enrichment during non-school hours; and any additional summer learning opportunities that school districts may need to address learning loss and prepare students for the coming school year.
The move to resume summer-learning programs is part of New Jersey’s multi-stage approach to a responsible and strategic restart from COVID-19. Gov. Murphy announced that on June 15, New Jersey will enter Stage Two of The Road Back: Restoring Economic Health Through Public Health, in which the state will ease restrictions on certain businesses and activities, as long as they adhere to strict health and safety guidelines.
Murphy signed Executive Order 149 May 30, approving Stage 2 activities that include the operation of summer camps that “provide daily multi-hour programming for youths” to begin on or after July 6. Summer educational programs run by school districts, charter schools and renaissance schools fall under this definition of “summer camps.”
School districts that want to operate modified in-person summer programs, or a combination of remote and in-person programs, must submit an attestation form to the NJDOH at least 24 hours before the anticipated opening date that the school will follow applicable health and safety protocols.
The guidance documents – Summer Learning Resource Guide and Guidance on the Delivery of Extended School Year Services – are available on the Department of Education’s website.