Gov. Phil Murphy continues to be adamant that all students will be in their classrooms for the opening of school this year.
When asked if he was reconsidering having a virtual option this coming school year that is being pushed by an online group, Murphy emphatically said “no.”
“We fully expect to be back to school Monday through Friday, full days, as close to a normal school year as possible,” said Murphy at a press briefing on July 26. “We fully expect that kids will be full time in person. We need full days”
Another issue raised was the ability for districts to have a half day schedule like last school year because they did not have a big enough cafeterias or staff to keep students socially distanced while they ate lunch. With younger students not yet eligible for a vaccine, the issue of providing lunch safely is one that elementary schools could possibly encounter.
Murphy dismissed the proposed scenario, stating “that is not reason enough for them to not be fully open.”
“We know the results on virtual learning, there’s enormous learning loss,” he stated. “In particular with underserved communities where we know of learning loss and needing to catch up, it was even more acute. There’s no question where the richer educational experience is, and that is full on in-person.”
Effects on Children
“There are some exceptions where I’ve heard stories, anecdotes, ‘My Johnny or Sally did better.’ Those are the overwhelming minorities of experiences.”
The desire for state officials to get students and teachers back in the classroom is rooted in the fact children tend not to get as ill if they do become infected. When it comes to wearing masks in the classroom, officials said the purpose is to protect them from getting ill and concerned that they can pass that illness onto others.
“It is still not entirely clear as to whether they pass it on as often as older people do,,” said Department of Health Medical Director Dr. Ed Lifshitz. “We do want to protect the children as much as possible so that they can’t pass it onto other people. They also need to live lives. They need to be able to go to school.”
Virus Dictates Terms
The governor pointed out that the state’s education department with New Jersey Department of Health put out a very “substantial” protocol recommendation that allows for superintendents to make decisions on issues such as if wearing a face mask will be required at schools.
But Murphy did acknowledge that the recommendations could change depending on the spread of the coronavirus.
“Having said all that, the virus dictates the terms here. We do our best to call balls and strikes based on the facts and to stay out ahead of it, but that’s a reality that we’re living with,” he said. “We do our best to stay out ahead of this, but we have to keep that in the back of our minds.”
The number of COVID-19 vaccines administered in New Jersey totaled 10,384,905 in-state, plus an additional 376,789 administered out-of-state for a grand total of 10,761,694 as of July 27. Of those who have received the vaccine, 5,083,333 received their second dose or the one jab Johnson & Johnson dose in state and another 163,113 out of state, bringing those fully vaccinated to 5,246,446.
In North Jersey, Bergen County has delivered 1,178,847 doses (579,585 fully vaccinated), Essex 878,999 doses (426,005), Hudson 804,729 doses (386,544), Morris 647,706 doses (316,802), Passaic 544,950 doses (264,409), Sussex 151,047 doses (74,848), and Warren 97,612 doses (48,045).
As of July 27, the cumulative number of confirmed coronavirus cases in New Jersey was 903,611 with 792 total new PCR cases reported. There were 285 probable cases, bringing the cumulative total of antigen tests to 131,416. The total number of individual cases for the state is 1,035,027.
As for those that have passed, the state reported seven confirmed deaths, bringing that total to 23,867. The state listed probable deaths at 2,719, bringing the overall total to 26,586. State officials noted one death occurred in the last 24 hours of reporting that has not yet been lab confirmed.
For North Jersey counties on July 27, Bergen had a total of 92 new confirmed cases and 32 new probable cases, Essex 80 new cases and 19 new probable case, Hudson 55 new cases and 10 new probable cases, Morris 24 new confirmed cases and 12 new probable cases, Passaic 48 new cases and 19 new probable case, Sussex nine new cases and five new probable cases, and Warren six new cases and two new probable cases.
Of the total confirmed deaths in North Jersey, Essex County has the most with 2,735, followed by Bergen at 2,596, Hudson with 2,097, Passaic at 1,745, Morris at 983, Sussex at 240, and Warren County at 213.
In regards to probable deaths reported July 26, Essex has 305, Bergen has 303, Morris has 260, Hudson has 218, Passaic has 203, Sussex has 68 and Warren has 26.
Of the 4,758,520 fully vaccinated individuals studied as of July 12, 5,678 New Jersey residents have tested positive for COVID who were fully vaccinated, resulting in 144 COVID-related hospitalizations and 49 COVID-related deaths.
As for the rate of transmission reported July 27, it increased to 1.50 from 1.44 the day before. The daily rate of infections from those tested July 22 was 3.9%; by region, the rate was 3.6% in the North, 4.7% in the Central region and 3.1% in the South.
Officials reported 442 patients were hospitalized; by region, there were 196 in the North, 151 in the Central and 95 in the South. Of those hospitalized, 78 are in intensive care units and 34 on ventilators. A total of 45 patients were discharged.
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.
Long-term Care Facilities
Health officials noted 32 long-term care facilities are currently reporting at least one case of COVID-19, accounting for a total of 153 of the cases, broken down between 96 residents and 57 staff.
Cumulatively, 1,512 long-term care facilities reported a case infecting 32,864 residents and 22,262 staff, for a total of 55,126.
The state’s official death total will now be reported as those that are lab confirmed, sits at 8,063 on July 27. The facilities are reporting to the state 7,878 residents deaths and 144 staff deaths.