Beyond the uniqueness of their individual circumstances, the back-to-school experience of 2020-2021 may be even more widely varied for each of them than ever before.

Aside from the fully remote option vouchsafed by the New Jersey Department of Education (NJDOE) in late June, New Jersey’s 104-page “Restart and Recovery Plan for Education” gives local communities wide discretion to shape their own education plans.

The principal concern for each of them, of course, ought to be whether it is safe to return to physical classrooms at all, given the unabated community spread of novel coronavirus (COVID-19) throughout the summer.

The virus, for which neither proven therapeutics nor vaccines have been developed, has already infected more than 185,000 New Jerseyans and has contributed to the deaths of more than 14,000 others.

Throughout the pandemic, New Jersey also has diagnosed 55 children 18 and younger with pediatric multisystem inflammatory syndrome, a condition that is believed to be COVID-19-related. All 55 have tested positive for the virus. Although the state has only seen two COVID-19-associated deaths of children, and both were four or younger, more than 200 children have been hospitalized with the virus.

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