North Jersey News Roundup for Sept. 15, 2020

All but one of the New Jersey House delegation wants the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to reverse a policy that will no longer provide emergency reimbursement for school systems and local governments for cloth masks used in schools, disinfection services for schools and other public facilities, thermometers, physical barriers, or PPE for teachers, medical staff, and other public workers. Additionally, FEMA will now limit funding for the storage of a stockpile of PPE to up to sixty days from the date of purchase.

None of the New Jersey school districts reporting positive COVID-19 cases in the first two weeks of in-person classes are believed to be incidents where students or teachers caught the coronavirus in the classroom, according to Gov. Phil Murphy. The number of cases is “about what we expected,” Murphy said. “It feels to me, I’d say quite strongly, that this system is working. Steps are being taken as they should be.”

Chatham High School switched to all-remote classes for two weeks after at least a dozen students who attended a Labor Day party tested positive for the coronavirus. The confirmation of additional cases led to the decision to close the school building and switch to virtual instruction for 14 days. Based on its contact tracing process, the Department of Health believes there was likely active transmission of the virus at a non-school event.

Verona High School suspended sports and extra curricular activities for two weeks after officials learned of a large party over the weekend attended by students. The school’s superintendent wrote in a letter to the school community that at least one person might have tested positive for the coronavirus, where attendees didn’t social distance or wear masks. The Record

Morris School District officials announced a positive coronavirus case at one of their seven elementary schools. The individual, who is from the Hillcrest Elementary School, had not been in class since Sept. 9. The district would not say whether the individual is a student, staff or faculty member, citing health confidentiality laws. The school will continue with in-person instruction. The Daily Record

Morris Hills High School and Morris Knolls High School moved to all-virtual schedule for about two weeks to remedy installation of the wrong filters for their respective HVAC systems. According to the district, MERV 8 air filters were installed for certain classrooms during the summer after the HVAC systems in both schools were “deep cleaned and sanitized.” But the district discovered that MERV 2 filters were installed in those classrooms instead. The Record

New Jersey Department of Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli would have advised for an earlier shutdown if she had heard what President Donald Trump had told Bob Woodward in early February. “If we had shutdown…the long-term care facilities even a month earlier since we had our first outbreak in assisted living around March 11, we would have stopped that outbreak,” said Persichilli said. “We do know now, the most recent study, that 45% of the spread in long-term care was the result of staff working at multiple facilities.” NJ Spotlight

Essential workers in New Jersey who contract the coronavirus are now eligible to qualify for workers’ compensation. The new law, retroactive to March 9, removes a requirement that essential workers who came down with the coronavirus to prove they did so on the job. This new law creates a presumption during the ongoing public health crisis that essential employees’ illnesses are related to their work.

State Sen. Anthony M. Bucco wants the Murphy Administration to work with the Legislature to safeguard a popular property tax relief program for low-income, disabled, and senior residents. “It’s imperative that lawmakers and the governor work together on a bipartisan basis to ensure that Homestead Benefit credits can appear on property tax bills due in November,” stated Bucco (R-25).

Gov. Phil Murphy signed a bill into law allowing college athletes in New Jersey to earn endorsement compensation. Under the new law, known as the New Jersey Fair Play Act, a four-year institution of higher education is prohibited from upholding any limitation preventing college athletes from earning compensation from their name, image or likeness. Earning such compensation will not affect the student’s scholarship eligibility. News12 New Jersey

New Jersey’s suicide prevention helpline handled more than 32,700 calls between February and August of this year, up 17% compared to the same time frame in 2019. The monthly count of individuals taking their own lives appears to be moving in the opposite direction compared to years past, at least according to preliminary figures, despite a health crisis that’s forced many people out of jobs and into isolation.

An ordinance would protect West New York’s new seal, flag and logo from non-official use, fining violators up to $1,500. According to the proposed law, neither the town’s logo nor its newly designed seal may be used in a political endorsement. The seal, which features industrial materials overlooking the New York City skyline, also may not be replicated “for private or commercial purposes,” and can only be published by the town itself. The Jersey Journal

And finally…Steve Cohen has agreed to purchase the New York Mets for a team valued at $2.4 billion. The New York Times

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