On the same day that New Jersey announced its first confirmed case of Coronavirus, a bi-partisan bill was filed in Trenton that would allow school districts to count “virtual school days” towards satisfying the minimum 180 school day requirement, in the event that schools need to close for three or more days due to an epidemic, weather, or other emergency situation. [UPDATE: the bill number is S2027. The Assembly version is A3813, sponsored by Assemblyman Burzichelli.]
Regardless of how the coronavirus outbreak plays out, this bill is a great idea, and one that is long overdue. Senator Gerry Cardinale, a sponsor of the bill (along with co-sponsors Senator James Beach and Senate Minority Leader Tom Kean), represents the Pascack Valley Regional High School District, which has been conducting virtual school days for several years, but has yet to have those days recognized by the Department of Education as part of the 180-day minimum.
Workplace dynamics have changed dramatically over the last two decades, with an increasing number of companies embracing the concept of allowing their employees to work remotely. According to recent U.S. Census data, 5.2% of workers in America–8 million people–worked from home in 2017, a 3.3% increase since 2000. Working remotely isn’t as easy as it sounds–it requires discipline and focus, but ultimately yields higher productivity and a happier workforce.
Prepping students for the modern-day landscape of remote work makes perfect sense, so I hope this bill moves forward quickly.