North Jersey News Roundup for Sept. 4, 2020

A New Jersey School Boards Association (NJSBA) report outlines how and where New Jersey’s school districts face challenges with their reopening plans. NJSBA’s survey found all districts have concerns on funding, the supply chain for personal protective equipment and technology, adequate staffing, shifting state directives and the need for firmer guidance in developing plans.

Manchester Regional Board of Education voted to reinstate Fall sports after cancelling it in August. A special meeting resulted in a 3-2  vote to allow football, boys and girls soccer, cross-country and cheerleading. Four board members were not present, leaving open the possibility that the decision again could be reversed at next week’s meeting. The Record

A Hackettstown High School student tested positive for COVID-19 on the first day of school. The positive test activated the health and safety protocols to be enacted at the school, including having the student quarantine, as well as all other students and staff in close contact with the person for more than 10 minutes. News12 New Jersey

The first significant data regarding COVID-19’s impact on New Jersey high school sports programs was released. A statewide survey of licensed athletic trainers from NJSIAA member schools that participated in voluntary workouts during the summer recess found 51 schools (33%) identified a potential COVID-19 case and 28 schools (18%) identified a positive COVID-19 case through mandated screening process. In addition, 36 schools (23%) had a reason to shut down a workout pod of athletes and 19 schools (12%) shut down an individual sports team due to COVID-19 exposure. The Daily Record

Jersey City school children won’t be going back to their classrooms until mid-November at the earliest even as some students do not have the technology to connect to their classes. The district will not have Chromebook laptops in the hands of all students because a shipment of 5,000 laptops is only expected to arrive in October. In regards to in-person instruction, the school superintendent said committees went into the summer months with an idea of what needed to accomplished in coronavirus-proofing classrooms and keeping students and staff safe, but the district is still not prepared. The Jersey Journal

Gov. Phil Murphy expects a COVID-19 vaccine to be ready in the first or second quarter of 2021, not the Nov. 1 date recently cited by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “That’s a date that’s ahead of any of the conversations that we’ve had with the manufacturers or other medical experts,” Murphy said, adding the state will emphasize equity and prioritize the same populations it did when coronavirus testing was initially scarce as it prepares for the eventual rollout of a vaccine. 

The federal government fined New Jersey’s state-run veterans’ home more than $21,000 for mixing up the identity of a veteran who died from COVID-19 during the chaos of the pandemic in April and for shortcomings in infection control. The Paramus home was cited for violating the rights of a resident when it mistakenly identified the body of a Korean War veteran who had died of COVID-19. The deceased man’s family was told erroneously that he was doing well when he had already died, and his roommate’s family was told erroneously that the roommate had died. New Jersey Herald

Gov. Phil Murphy accused President Donald Trump of stoking division by threatening to cut federal funding to cities that the President says have permitted “anarchy, violence, and destruction” amid unrest over racial injustice. “When you’re dealing with a pandemic, an all-time economic crisis, and, at long last, a reckoning with the stain of racism and social justice, the last thing we need is leadership at the highest levels of our country to be dividing us,” said Murphy. “This is a time we have to find the right rhetoric and the right actions that bring us together.”

A bipartisan bill permitting the use of campaign funds to pay for childcare in certain instances is headed to the desk of Gov. Phil Murphy after passing the Assembly. The legislation, which passed the Senate in February, would permit candidates and public office holders to use campaign funds to pay for childcare expenses incurred as the direct result of campaign and public office activity.

Another 20,176 New Jersey workers filed new unemployment claims for the week ending on Aug. 29, a number that remained steady for the second week in a row, the state Department of Labor. A total of 1.5 million New Jersey workers have applied for unemployment benefits since the coronavirus forced a near-shutdown of the state, forcing businesses to close their doors and furlough their workers. Of the 1.3 million who are eligible, about 96% have received payments. News12 New Jersey

A Bergen County-based attorney was arrested for allegedly fraudulently getting $9 million in loans meant to help small businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic and used them to buy a million dollar home and make other purchases. Jae H. Choi was charged with submitting three fake Paycheck Protection Program loans to three different lenders on behalf of three different businesses he said he owned that provide educational services. Additionally, prosecutors claim the Cliffside Park resident lied about the existence of hundreds of employees that worked there, manipulated bank and tax records and falsified a driver’s license on the applications. The Record

Retail shops and indoor entertainment experiences at the Triple Five Group-owned American Dream Mall in the Meadowlands will open their doors Oct 1. Among the retailers expected to open their doors for the first time are H&M, Primark, and ZARA. On the entertainment side, DreamWorks Water Park, Nickelodeon Universe, Out of This World Blacklight Mini Golf, and The Rink will welcome patrons.

Contamination cleanup and wetlands restoration of a fenced-off, 234-acre section of Liberty State Park could begin as early as next summer. The finished product will be home to passive recreation like bicycling, walking, wildlife viewing and scenic overlooks and will help in the battle against climate change. Because the funding is coming from the settlement of pollution lawsuits, it cannot include active recreation amenities. Hudson Reporter

A Superior Court judge upheld a ballot measure for November that will ask Ridgewood residents to merge three elections on one day. Judge Estela De La Cruz ruled against the village’s rejection to have the April school board elections, the municipal elections in May and the November general election on one day on the grounds that petitioners would have had to submit for individual referendums. The Record

And finally…The last weekend of summer looks to be perfect this year. News12 New Jersey

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