Gov. Phil Murphy Continues Push For Schools to Return to In-Person Instruction This Year

Despite less than two months left in the scholastic year, Gov. Phil Murphy is pushing for school districts that are all remote due to the coronavirus to get teachers and students back into the classroom this year.

“We continue to work to see every school return to in-person instruction,” said Murphy at a press briefing May 5. “Over the past eight weeks, we’ve seen these efforts kick into high gear across the state. We will continue to work with these schools through the New Jersey Department of Education to move this along.”

Murphy noted the number of all remote schools is 15, down from 142 districts at the beginning of March. Of those left, seven are charter schools, four are public schools districts, and four special service schools.

Back in the Classroom

“Our goal is to get these (15) down to zero, and for these roughly 53,000 students and their educators to be back in their classrooms for in-person instruction,” said Murphy. “One of our continual focuses over the past months has been to get our school students and educators and staff back into their buildings for in-person instruction.”

The four remaining all remote public school districts are Hillside, Passaic, Paterson, and Pleasantville. The governor had listed Irvington in the all-remote category, but that district recently returned to having in-person classes. 

As for the other school systems signaled out, Hillside is scheduled to return May 24 and Paterson announced the night after Murphy’s press briefing it was returning to a limited, back-to-school plan starting June 8

Past Hybrid

“We know there are myriad reasons why the remaining districts have not taken this step,” Murphy said. “But the simple fact remains that we cannot leave (these) students out of their classrooms for an entire year. That is not fair to them, their families, their communities, or their futures.”

Additionally, Murphy noted the focus will not be on the all-remote districts, saying he will push to get the hybrid district to full in-person instruction. 

“We continue to work with the districts currently in a hybrid stance, or in-person for certain grades or buildings to increase opportunities for in-person instruction across the board, including being able to get to a full school day,” said Murphy.

Summer School

Murphy said while the state will give guidance for Summer school, most plans will be district specific. 

“There are three districts that don’t have yet a reopening plan that the Summer plan for a district like that is probably dramatically different from a district that’s been hybrid from day one or all in-person from day one,” said the governor. “So, it’s going to be a localized, not one size fits all answer.”

Murphy has been adamant that all students and teachers will be in school the first day of the 2021/2022 school year. “We would fully expect…that we will be in person for school in September,” he said earlier this year. “I will be very surprised and disappointed if we’re not.”

Vaccine Distribution

The number of COVID-19 vaccines administered in New Jersey totaled 7,373,075 in states, plus an additional 357,974 administered out-of-state for a grand total of 7,731,049 as of May 6. Of those who have received the vaccine, 3,278,552 received their second dose or the one jab Johnson & Johnson dose in state and another 159,196 out of state, bringing those fully vaccinated to 3,437,601. 

Demographically, 54% of those vaccinated are women and 45% men. As for ethnicity, 54% are White, 12% Hispanic, 10% Asian, 9% other, 8% unknown and 6% Black. In regards to age of those having received the vaccine, 33% are 65 years old or olders, 29% are between the ages of 50-64, 27% are between the ages of 30-49, and 12% are between the ages of 16-29.  

In North Jersey, Bergen County has delivered 817,247 doses (367,939 fully vaccinated), Essex 588,657 doses (256,099), Morris 501,398 doses (227,775), Hudson 494,945 doses (211,542), Passaic 356,340 doses (155,523), Sussex 113,141 doses (49,675), and Warren 72,216 doses (31,680). 

Daily Data

As of May 6, the cumulative number of confirmed coronavirus cases in New Jersey was 878,892 with 1,564 total new PCR cases reported. There were 521 probable cases, bringing the cumulative total of antigen tests to 127,046. The total number of individual cases for the state is 1,005,938. 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 34 new deaths, bringing that total to 23,100. The state listed probable deaths at 2,640, bringing the overall total to 25,740. State officials noted 17 deaths occurred in the last 24 hours of reporting that have not yet been lab confirmed.  

For North Jersey counties on May 6, Bergen had a total of 354 new confirmed cases and 161 probable cases, Essex 144 new cases and 36 probable cases, Hudson 122 new cases and 24 probable cases, Morris 53 new cases and 21 probable cases, Passaic 113 new cases and 33 probable cases, Sussex 29 new cases and 13 probable cases, and Warren 23 cases and one new probable case.

There are a total of 3,244 coronavirus variants being reported in the Garden State. State officials documented 2,989 cases of the U.K. variant (B.1.1.7), 144 cases of the California variants (B.1.429 and B.1.427), 104 cases of the Brazilian (P.1) variant, and seven cases of the South African (B.1351) variant. 

Of the total confirmed deaths in North Jersey, Essex County has the most with 2,628, followed by Bergen at 2,545, Hudson with 2,021, Passaic at 1,677, Morris at 965, Sussex at 230 and Warren County at 210.

In regards to probable deaths reported May 5, Essex has 295, Bergen has 295, Morris has 252, Hudson has 213, Passaic has 195, Sussex has 67 and Warren has 25.

State Testing 

As for the rate of transmission, it increased to 0.42 from 0.34 the day before. The daily rate of infections from those tested as of May 1, was 6.9%; by region, the rate was 7.1% in the North, 6.3% in the Central region and 7.6% in the South. 

Officials reported 1,306 patients were hospitalized; by region, there were 612, in the North, 341 in the Central and 353 in the South. Of those hospitalized, 306 are in intensive care units and 199 on ventilators. A total of 191 patients were discharged, while 136 were admitted.

Officials have continually cited transmission rate, hospitalizations, intensive care units, ventilators 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.

Bergen Tops County Count

Bergen has the most confirmed cumulative cases in the state with 88,699, followed by Essex at 84,202, Middlesex at 83,996, Hudson at 78,224, Monmouth at 66,744, Ocean at 65,004, Passaic at 64,808, Union at 59,848, Camden at 48,035, Morris at 41,571, Burlington at 37,711, Mercer at 31,172, Gloucester at 26,119, Atlantic at 24,614, Somerset at 24,021, Cumberland at 14,451, Sussex at 11,503, Warren at 8,756, Hunterdon at 8,715, Salem at 5,433, and Cape May at 4,533.  

In regards to probable cases, Bergen had the most at 14,383, followed by Union at 10,890, Ocean at 10,032, Essex at 9,332, Hudson at 9,139, Morris at 8,070, Monmouth at 7,987, Middlesex at 7,305, Passaic at 7,252, Atlantic at 6,563, Camden at 6,414, Burlington at 6,321, Somerset at 5,689, Cape May at 4,492, Gloucester at 3,889, Mercer at 2,323, Sussex at 2,238, Cumberland at 2,214, Warren at 993, Hunterdon at 890, and Salem 530.

Another 733 cases are still under investigation to determine where the person resides.

In regards to cases related to in-school transmissions, a total of 263 outbreaks involving 1,157 cases have been reported, with 18 new outbreaks accounting for 63 cases in the weekly update on May 5. 

For North Jersey, Bergen County has 52 confirmed outbreaks with 198 cases, Passaic County has 16 confirmed outbreaks with 52 cases, Sussex has 14 confirmed outbreaks with 55 cases, Warren has 14 confirmed outbreaks with 34 cases, Morris County has five confirmed outbreaks with 34 cases, Hudson County has five confirmed outbreaks with 23 cases, and Essex County with one confirmed outbreak with 92 cases.

Long-term Care Facilities

Health officials noted 205 long-term care facilities are currently reporting at least one case of COVID-19, accounting for a total of 5,370 of the cases, broken down between 2,294 residents and 3,076 staff. 

Cumulatively, 1,435 long-term care facilities reported a case infecting 32,847 residents and 22,118 staff, for a total of 54,965. 

The state’s official death total will now be reported as those that are lab confirmed, sits at 8,032 on May 6. The facilities are reporting to the state 7,873 residents deaths and 144 staff deaths.

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