SENATE, No. 2899
STATE OF NEW JERSEY
INTRODUCED SEPTEMBER 14, 2020
Senator M. TERESA RUIZ
District 29 (Essex)
Senator TROY SINGLETON
District 7 (Burlington)
Senators Addiego, Turner and Pou
Establishes Safe Remote Learning Program in DOE to support provision of remote instruction facilities by public schools.
CURRENT VERSION OF TEXT
As reported by the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee on October 22, 2020, with amendments.
An Act establishing a Safe Remote Learning Program in the Department of Education to support the provision of remote instruction facilities by public schools.
Be It Enacted by the Senate and General Assembly of the State of New Jersey:
1. a. There is established in the Department of Education the Safe Remote Learning Program to support the provision of remote instruction facilities by school districts, charter schools, and renaissance schools that implement a partial or full-time program of virtual or remote instruction as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
b. The department shall establish guidelines concerning the establishment and maintenance of remote instruction facilities. In addition to any other requirements set forth by the department, the guidelines shall require each remote instruction facility to be:
(1) used for the delivery of remote instruction to students in accordance with health and safety standards set forth by the Department of Education, in consultation with the Department of Health2, and in receipt of written confirmation from the local health department that the remote instruction facility is operating in accordance with health and safety standards established in response to the COVID-19 pandemic2;
(2) equipped with such online instruction equipment, including connected devices and mobile broadband Internet access service, as is necessary for every student who attends the facility to participate in remote instruction activities; 1[and]1
(3) staffed by appropriately qualified persons during all hours of operation 1; and
(4) in compliance with the rules and regulations established for licensed child care centers1.
c. 2(1)2 When a school district, charter school, or renaissance school implements a partial or full-time program of virtual or remote instruction as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the school may establish one or more remote instruction facilities, without prior approval from the department, provided that the facility complies with the guidelines established by the department pursuant to subsection b. of this section. The facilities may be established by repurposing space within an existing school facility or acquiring space within a facility owned by a non-profit organization or an institution of higher education.
When a remote instruction facility, established pursuant to this section, is to
be operated by a private or non-profit entity, then the school district,
charter school, or renaissance school shall enter
into a memorandum of understanding with the private or non-profit entity concerning the operation of the remote instruction facility by the private or non-profit entity. The department, in consultation with the Department of Children and Families, shall establish provisions that are required to be contained in any memorandum of understanding entered into pursuant to this paragraph, and shall develop a sample memorandum of understanding that may be used for the purposes of complying with the requirements of this paragraph, no later than 30 days after the effective date of this act.2
d. (1) Within the limits of available space, a school district, charter school, or renaissance school that establishes a remote instruction facility shall, upon written request from the parent, guardian, or other person having legal custody of a student, permit the student to participate in remote instruction activities at the facility.
(2) If a student is enrolled in a school district, charter school, or renaissance school that has not established a remote instruction facility, or if a student is unable to attend a remote instruction facility due to insufficient space, the student shall be eligible to participate in remote instruction activities at any nearby remote instruction facility.
(3) If the school district, charter school, or renaissance school lacks sufficient space to allow all students to participate in remote instruction activities at a remote instruction facility, the school shall give preference to:
(a) students who are eligible for free or reduced price meals under the National School Lunch Program or the federal School Breakfast Program; and
(b) students whose parent, guardian, or other person having legal custody is considered an essential worker by the department, which workers shall include, but not be limited to, teachers, school administrators, and other school personnel.
e. The department, in consultation with the Department of Children and Families, shall establish eligibility criteria for persons who may staff remote instruction facilities, except that a student who is enrolled in an educator preparation program at a public institution of higher education in the State shall be eligible to staff a remote instruction facility and shall receive credit for such service toward the educator preparation program.
f. As used in this section:
“Connected device” means a laptop computer, tablet computer, or similar device that is capable of connecting to broadband Internet access service, either by receiving such service directly or through the use of Wi-Fi.
“Mobile broadband Internet access service” means a mass-market retail service by wire or radio that provides the capability to transmit data to and receive data from all or substantially all Internet endpoints, including any capabilities that are incidental to and enable the operation of the communications service, but excluding dial-up Internet access service.
“Online instruction equipment” means the equipment necessary for a student to participate in remote instruction activities, and includes a connected device and mobile broadband Internet access service.
2. a. If a school district, charter school, or renaissance school establishes one or more remote instruction facilities, the Department of Education shall, from the monies made available pursuant to subsection b. of this section, reimburse the school district, charter school, or renaissance school for the full costs of establishing and maintaining each facility.
b. (1) To the extent permitted by federal law, the department shall provide such funding as is necessary, from the monies allocated to the State under the federal “Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act,” Pub.L. 116-136, or any other financial assistance provided by the federal government to address the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, to support the reimbursements required under subsection a. of this section.
(2) If insufficient federal funding is made available pursuant to paragraph (1) of this subsection, the State shall appropriate such additional amounts as are necessary to support the reimbursements required under subsection a. of this section, subject to the approval of the Director of the Division of Budget and Accounting in the Department of the Treasury.
3. Notwithstanding any provision of P.L.1968, c.410 (C.52:14B-1 et seq.), or any other law to the contrary, the Commissioner of Education may adopt, immediately upon filing with the Office of Administrative Law and no later than the 90th day after the effective date of this act, such rules and regulations as the commissioner deems necessary to implement the provisions of this act, which regulations shall be effective for a period not to exceed 12 months. The regulations shall thereafter be amended, adopted, or readopted by the commissioner in accordance with the provisions of P.L.1968, c.410 (C.52:14B-1 et seq.).
4. This act shall take effect immediately.