Gov. Phil Murphy Expects First Day of School to be In-Person Next Year

Gov. Phil Murphy was unequivocally on what he believes the first day of school will look like next year. 

“We would fully expect, assuming things go the direction they’re going, that we will be in person for school in September,” said Gov. Phil Murphy at a press briefing March 1. “I will be very surprised and disappointed if we’re not.”

The statement was made the same day Murphy announced the expansion, beginning March 15, for teachers being eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. Because of the coronavirus pandemic, schools since last March have operated by either remote learning, in-school instruction or a hybrid of both.

“This eligibility corresponds with more and more of our educational communities transitioning from all-remote learning to either all in-person or hybrid models that have students and educators back in their school buildings throughout the week,” said Murphy.

School Breakdown

Currently, of the 811 school districts, 110 of those are currently open for all in-person instruction, and 533 for hybrid instruction, up by 15 and 42 respectively in the last three weeks. The number remaining all remote is currently 142, down 48 over the same time period. Twenty seven local education agencies are using a mix of options across their building, down eight.

According to Murphy, approximately 760,000 students are being taught on a hybrid schedule in the Garden State, 447,000 students remain all remote, 74,000 students are learning full time in their classrooms and 72,000 students mixed.

“So if you add up all of that, what percentage of our kids are either full on in-person, in hybrid, or in a combination? About two-thirds,” said Murphy. “As we continue to work towards seeing all of our students back in their schools, ensuring full access to the vaccine for their educators is a big step to take. It’s not the magic wand. It’s not the only step, but it is a big one.”

In-school Transmissions

the move to remote and hybrid instruction was borne out of negating cases of in-school transmissions. As of March 2, a total of 160 outbreaks involving 765 cases have been reported for the 2020-2021 school year, with eight new outbreaks accounting for 28 cases reported in last week. State officials have in the past said they were pleased with the numbers, lower than what they expected before the school year started.

For North Jersey, Bergen County has 37 confirmed outbreaks with 155 cases, Passaic County has seven confirmed outbreaks with 32 cases, Sussex has six confirmed outbreaks with 15 cases, Warren has eight confirmed outbreaks with 20 cases, Morris County has four confirmed outbreaks with 32 cases, Hudson County has three confirmed outbreaks with 13 cases, and Essex County with one confirmed outbreak with 92 cases.

School Stress

The governor said the stress of the school year on all involved should not be underestimated. 

“Educators know that more than anybody, moms and dads know that more than anybody, and our kids do (too),” he said.

Murphy was optimistic that in-person instruction will continue to increase through the rest of the school year.

“I think we will get there, and we are getting there at a minimum in a hybrid format,” he said. “But I hope even more full in person, assuming we can do it safely and responsibly. But I hope we’re a lot more in person in this school year before it ends.”

Vaccine Distribution

The number of COVID-19 vaccines administered in New Jersey totaled 2,132,155 as of March 2. Of those who have received the vaccine, 1,410,548 residents have received their first dose with 721,131 their second; 54% have been administered the Moderna vaccine and 46% the Pfizer. 

Demographically, 58% of those vaccinated are women and 42% men. As for ethnicity, 57% are White, 14% unknown, 13% other, 6% Asian, 5% Hispanic and 4% Black. In regards to age of those having received the vaccine, 42% are 65 years old or olders, 27% are between the ages of 50-64, 24% are between the ages of 40-49, and 8% are between the ages of 18-29.  

In North Jersey, Bergen County has delivered 240,521 doses, Essex 172,533 doses, Morris 160,190 doses, Hudson 98,989 doses, Passaic 95,874 doses, Sussex 33,320 doses, and Warren 21,568 doses. 

Daily Data

As of March 1, the cumulative number of confirmed coronavirus cases in New Jersey was 707,009 with 2,820 total new PCR cases reported. There were 769 probable cases, bringing the cumulative total of antigen tests to 88,686. The total number of individual cases for the state is 795,695. Gov. Murphy previously noted there is some unknown overlap due to health officials urging those taking a rapid test to get a PCR test.

As for those that have passed, the state reported 48 new deaths, bringing that total to 20,990. The state listed probable deaths at 2,331, bringing the overall total to 23,321. State officials noted 18 deaths occurred in the last 24 hours of reporting that have not yet been lab confirmed.  

For North Jersey counties on March 2, Bergen had a total of 347 new confirmed cases and 99 probable cases, Essex 220 new cases and 46 probable cases, Hudson 316 new cases and 53 probable cases, Morris 185 new cases and 47 probable cases, Passaic 188 new cases and 45 probable cases, Sussex 39 new cases and nine probable cases, and Warren 37 cases and one probable cases.

State officials have identified a total of 63 cases of the B117 UK coronavirus variant in 12 counties in New Jersey, including eight in Essex County, four in Morris County, three in Hudson, and two each in Passaic and Warren counties.

Of the total confirmed deaths in North Jersey, Essex County has the most with 2,414, followed by Bergen at 2,340, Hudson with 1,831, Passaic at 1,525, Morris at 897, Sussex at 209 and Warren County at 198.

In regards to probable deaths reported Feb. 24, Bergen has 281, Essex has 269, Morris has 227, Hudson has 180, Passaic has 173, Sussex has 64 and Warren has 19.

State Testing 

As for the rate of transmission, it increased to 0.97 from 0.94 the day before. The daily rate of infections from those tested as of Feb. 25, was 6.4%; by region, the rate was 6.5% in the North, 7.0% in the Central region and 5.2% in the South. 

Officials have continually cited transmission rate and positivity rate as health data they rely on to track how the coronavirus is being contained in New Jersey, guiding them in determining when restrictions have to be tightened or lifted.

Officials reported 1,915 patients were hospitalized; by region, there were 925 in the North, 615 in the Central and 375 in the South.

Of those hospitalized, 395 are in intensive care units and 228 on ventilators. A total of 147 patients were discharged, while 197 were admitted.

Bergen Tops County Count

Bergen has the most confirmed cumulative cases in the state with 69,496, followed by Middlesex at 68,044, Essex at 67,907, Hudson at 64,178, Passaic at 52,362, Ocean at 52,320, Monmouth at 52,051, Union at 49,373, Camden at 39,656, Morris at 32,443, Burlington at 31,082, Mercer at 26,325, Gloucester at 21,196, Atlantic at 19,864, Somerset at 18,831, Cumberland at 12,240, Sussex at 8,031, Warren at 6,410, Hunterdon at 6,359, Salem at 4,263, and Cape May at 3,724.  

In regards to probable cases, Bergen had the most at 8,949, followed by Union at 7,823, Ocean at 6,827, Essex at 6,342, Hudson at 5,762, Morris at 5,449, Monmouth at 5,409, Atlantic at 5,134, Middlesex at 5,073, Passaic at 4,856, Camden at 4,767, Burlington at 4,518, Somerset at 4,210, Cape May at 3,537, Gloucester at 3,115, Cumberland at 2,147, Mercer at 1,651, Sussex at 1,188, Warren at 731, Hunterdon at 630, and Salem 455.

Another 944 cases are still under investigation to determine where the person resides.

Long-term Care Facilities

Health officials noted 323 long-term care facilities are currently reporting at least one case of COVID-19, accounting for a total of 12,529 of the cases, broken down between 6,195 residents and 6,334 staff. 

Cumulatively, 1,267 long-term care facilities reported a case infecting 32,263 residents and 21,048 staff, for a total of 53,311 cases. 

The state’s official death total will now be reported as those that are lab confirmed, sits at 7,911 on March 2. The facilities are reporting to the state 7,823 residents deaths and 143 staff deaths.

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