As we move forward (albeit very slowly) from the coronavirus pandemic in New Jersey there is a great unknown which will impact tens of thousands and could alter their lives significantly.

Will schools be open in September or will education continue through virtual teaching and learning which was acceptable during a three-month crisis but will not be viewed positively by most if it has to continue.

Gov. Murphy, who rarely shares any specifics when it comes to openings, has indicated some guidance will be coming soon but I think it’s safe to say what we see in September will be very different from how schools opened last fall.

Of course until we see some details speculation will run wild on what students, teachers and concerned parents will find.

The New Jersey School Boards Association has already suggested that reduced capacity and split sessions could very well be a reality in most districts.  I have even heard some might contemplate a six-day school week divided into three sections…Monday-Thursday, Tuesday-Friday and Wednesday-Saturday with other days set aside for virtual learning.

This would not only reduce building capacity but allow buses to run with smaller loads which will be necessary with social distancing.

Of course in the end the state should provide guidelines and allow districts to work on a plan that best fits their needs because what works in Toms River may look very different in Point Pleasant Beach.

Having no children in school any longer my view is likely quite different from parents who have not only school-age children but careers to juggle.  As rough as it has been for many families the situation was helped slightly because so many were working from home during this crisis.

However as they go back into the office that so-called “luxury” might no longer exist so they need schools open, partly because they’re mentally drained from having to help with daily assignments and homework.

Let’s also be clear on something.  Virtual learning is fine for the short-term and could mean an end to “snow days” in the future but it is not a substitute to in classroom instruction.  Bottom line is that kids are not receiving the same education and are being cheated.  We need to find an acceptable method to move forward so they don’t go backwards.