Last summer Gov. Phil Murphy announced all schools would be required to offer in-person instruction unless there was a specific problem.

Half way into the school year, almost half of all districts remain closed and are offering only remote learning for their students.

A growing number of parents say this is unacceptable and they are demanding state education officials and the governor require at least partial in-person instruction in all districts.

This coming Wednesday, parents associated with a group called the New Jersey Families for In-Person Learning are expected to hold a rally in Trenton for their cause.

Kevin Brady, of West Orange, a parent of three children, said a big part of the problem is the state has no clear metrics to force schools to offer in-person instruction at a certain point.

“I think if you leave it up to the 600-plus districts to each decide on their own, with no specific metrics to be hit, we’re going to be dealing with this for months or even years," he said.

He noted the situation has become increasingly frustrating because the goal posts keep changing. Brady said he understands there’s been an uptick in positive cases in recent months but retail stores, restaurants and gyms are allowed to stay open if they follow safety guidelines, and there’s no reason the same thing should not be happening in schools.

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“There’s a lot of people going out and doing all sorts of different activities and we’re just kind of putting the kids on the back burner and waiting till this goes away," he said.

He said he supported keeping children at home at first but we now have evidence from other states that infections rates remained low even with open schools.

Brady noted many parents don’t understand why their schools, after laying out a course of action to re-open, have remained closed without a clear explanation.

“My kids aren’t getting the public education that my taxes pay for right now,” he said. “They’re getting a fraction of it."

New Jersey Families for In-Person Learning has 650 people following its Safe Return to School Facebook group and more than 3,300 people have signed an online petition calling for in-person instruction to be required.

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