In-School Learning Still the Objective for Gov. Phil Murphy

While the state has given the option for families to choose all-remote learning this year with the coronavirus still spreading in New Jersey, Gov. Phil Murphy reiterated that in-school instruction is still the main objective for New Jersey officials.

“If done safely, I believe we must try to include at least some aspect of in-person education for our children this fall,” said Murphy at a press briefing July 27.

The governor said that every education expert consulted has confirmed that in-person education is critical and remote learning should only be offered as a substitute when absolutely necessary.

“I don’t expect districts will come back with an all-remote option.,” said Murphy.

Three Guiding Principles

The first-term Democratic governor said the upcoming school year will be guided by three principles: Health, best education possible and equity.

“The health and safety of students, their families, educators, administrators, and staff—and all of our decisions will be guided by health and safety protocols,” said Murphy. “Second, we’ll be guided by how best to educate our students. We enter this with the best public education system in America. That’s educators, that’s kids, that’s their families, parents, the whole community around education.”

When it comes to equity, the governor noted  while a plan to close the digital divide is in place,  there’s no question that remote learning is easier for affluent communities and their families. Additionally, families with children of special needs have found it “isn’t easy or sometimes even possible for them,” noted the governor.

Education Gap

“That’s why we say often that no two school districts are exactly alike,” Murphy said. “There’s huge gaps between suburban and rural on the one hand and urban on the other.” 

“All of this must be a part of our thinking as we move to September,” he continued. “This is going to be a school year unlike any other, including the one we just finished, which was also unlike any other. But we are committed to ensuring that the concerns of students and families and educators and administrators will be heard.”

The governor stressed the state’s goal is to provide as much flexibility as possible to local school districts to implement plans that best fit their communities. 

Outbreak Protocols

“Regardless of where we and the local districts come out in terms of the precise model and what it looks like, it will be a challenge for everyone, so let’s acknowledge that and commend everyone that’s working so hard to work out a path forward,” stated Murphy.  

Murphy conceded the state and school district are working through protocols if an outbreak occurs in a school. 

“If you shut down, how much do you shut? How long do you shut? Where do the kids go? What happens to mom and dad who are both working full-time?” wondered Murphy. “None of that’s easy.”

Daily Data

As of July 28, the cumulative number of coronavirus cases in New Jersey reached 180,295 with 565 new cases and 24 new deaths, bringing that total to 13,905. The state probable death count remained at 1,920, bringing the overall total to 15,825.

The state reported eight deaths occurred in the last 24 hours of reporting that have not yet been lab confirmed.  

Of the total confirmed deaths in North Jersey, Essex County has the most with 1,856, followed by Bergen at 1,783, Hudson with 1,330, Passaic at 1,090, Morris at 676, Sussex at 158 and Warren with 156.

In regards to probable deaths, Bergen has 263, Essex has 247, Hudson has 175, Passaic 156, Morris 153, Sussex has 37 and Warren has 14.

State Testing 

As for the rate of transmission, it was 1.14, rising from 1.09 th day before. Officials reported 718 patients are hospitalized. The north tier had 303 patients hospitalized, the central 244 and the south 171.

Of those hospitalized, 112 are in intensive care units and 56 on ventilators, while 37 patients were discharged. 

Bergen Tops County Count

Bergen has the most cumulative cases in the state with 20,341, followed by Hudson at 19,399, Essex at 19,376, Middlesex at 17,580, Passaic at 17,348, Union at 16,410, Ocean at 10,293, Monmouth at 9,947, Camden at 8,167, Mercer at 7,966, Morris at 7,091, Burlington at 5,684, Somerset at 5,155, Atlantic at 3,297, Cumberland at 3,166, Gloucester at 2,999, Warren at 1,321, Sussex at 1,286, Hunterdon at 1,123, Salem at 866 and Cape May at 800.

Another 680 cases are still under investigation to determine where the person resides.

Demographic Breakdown

The racial breakdown of the record deaths was 54% White, 20% Hispanic, 18% Black, 6% Asian and 2% another race. Murphy has noted the rates in the black and Hispanic communities are running about 50% more than their population in the state. 

In regards to the underlying disease of those who have passed, 56% had cardiovascular disease, 45% diabetes, 31% other chronic diseases, 18% neurological conditions, 17% lung diseases, 15% chronic renal disease, 10% cancer and 14% other. Persichilli has stated most cases have multiple underlying conditions which would push the percentage of 100%.

A census of ages for confirmed deaths shows 47% of deaths are of those 80 year old and up, 33% in the range of 65-80, 16% between 50-65 and 5% under the age of 49. 

State officials are tracking cases of Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in children who in turn  test positive for COVID-19. No new cases were reported July 28, with the total remaining at 55 cumulative cases for children ranging in age from 1-18. All have tested positive for COVID-19 or have antibodies in their blood. Two are currently hospitalized. No deaths have been reported from the disease. 

Persichilli stated “Black and Hispanic children account for a disproportionately high number” on a national scale. While only a small sample, Persichilli reported the racial breakdown in New Jersey was 40% Hispanic, 34% Black, 12% White, 6% Asian and 4% other.

Long-term Care Facilities

Health officials noted currently 331 long-term care facilities are reporting at least one case of COVID-19, accounting for a total of 23,899 of the cases, broken down between 15,559 residents and 8,340 staff. 

Cumulatively, 602 long-term care facilities reported a case infecting 24,616 residents and 12,891 staff, for a total of 37,507 cases. 

The state’s official death total will now be reported as those that are lab confirmed, sits at 6,897 on July 28. The facilities are reporting to the state 6,707 residents deaths and 119 staff deaths. 

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