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Senate President Steve Sweeney. Kevin Sanders for New Jersey Globe
Senate President Steve Sweeney. (Photo: Kevin Sanders for New Jersey Globe)

Sweeney won’t push Murphy on all remote schools, despite agreeing with Addiego

Senate president predicts schools will go remote without mandate

By Nikita Biryukov, August 17 2020 12:11 pm

Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-West Deptford) agrees with Sen. Dawn Addiego’s (D-Evesham) calls for an all-remote start to the school year, but he doesn’t plan to push Gov. Phil Murphy on the issue.

“My concern is that we’re going to open up and then close. You know, you’re seeing spikes around the country,” Sweeney told the New Jersey Globe Monday. “I agree with Sen. Addiego, but I’m going to support the governor right now and the way he’s going forward with it.”

On Wednesday, Murphy announced new guidance that would allow schools to start the year without any in-person instruction so long as they are taking steps to reintroduce traditional classes.

The announcement was a noticeable shift in the administration’s approach to education amid a pandemic that saw schools move to fully-remote operations in the spring.

Previously, the state required all of its school districts to have some in-person component, and districts have begun to pivot to electronic instruction over the past five days.

For Sweeney, that’s a good thing.

“He’s morphed his position from the very beginning — from where he was to where he’s at now — and I think you’re going to see the majority of the school districts are not going to be open,” he said. “It’s going to be remote, and I don’t think that’s a bad idea. I’m basically in both places.”

Addiego has closely aligned herself with Sweeney and South Jersey Democrats since defecting from the Republican party last January.

But unlike her, Sweeney, who often finds himself opposite Murphy in intra-party feuds typical to Trenton in less trying times, thinks the governor has moved far enough.

“I think the governor’s changed enough to give the flexibility for the local districts,” he said. “And I think the local districts are going to make the right move, and they’re going to do it from distance for now.”

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