As 2022 begins, more New Jersey school districts are going virtual to deal with the ongoing spike in COVID-19 cases and the staffing shortages it has caused, while most schools in and around Philly are remaining open for now.
The School District of Philadelphia will open schools as planned this week, though 19 of its more than 200 schools decided last month to temporarily close because of high case counts.
Public schools in Collingswood, Oaklyn, and Burlington Township announced they would shift to remote learning for the first few weeks of the year due to high transmission rates of the omicron variant.
“This decision was not made lightly,” Mary Ann Bell, superintendent of schools for Burlington Township, said in a Saturday announcement to families. “We know in person learning is best for children and families.”
Collingswood and Oaklyn schools said students would return to in-person classes Jan. 18, “or sooner if conditions improve,” according to an email sent to families Friday.
The Camden City School District and Pennsauken Schools had previously announced they would also go virtual, while Woodbury City Public Schools decided last month to do half-days for the first week of the new year to reduce exposure among students during lunch, when they would be unmasked.
Most suburban Philadelphia schools plan to remain open.
Lower Merion School District said Saturday that it would close its schools to students Monday to determine if the district has enough staff to keep schools open and which schools, if any, might need to go virtual. It plans to keep schooling in-person so long as there is enough staff, Superintendent Khalid N. Mumin said in a letter to families. Students will also have the option of virtual learning until Jan. 14.
“As I stated in my communication prior to break, our goal is to continue in-person instruction as long as we can do so safely,” Mumin wrote.
The Central Bucks School District acknowledged last month that it may face staffing shortages due to omicron but said it would reopen schools as planned. Masks at school remain optional, as they have been since the state Supreme Court struck down a school mask mandate in December.
Staff writer Barbara Laker contributed to this article.