There are new rules for students and school staffers when it comes how many days to miss school when it comes COVID exposure.
The declaration by the New Jersey Department of Health (NJDOH) comes as key health metrics show signs of slowing or declining for the first time since November 2021 that lead Gov. Phil Murphy to state “early signs of better days ahead.”
To reflect Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) guidance recent reduction in isolation and quarantine timelines, the NJDOH on Jan. 12 updated its guidance for K-12 schools for school exclusion criteria. This guidance includes recommendations for additional measures schools can implement in regions with very-high COVID-19 community transmission.
According to health officials, the shortened timeframes for isolation and quarantine focus on the period when a person is most infectious, followed by continued masking for an additional five days.
The protocols to follow now are:
- Adults 18 and over exposed to COVID, but who have no symptoms, do not need to stay home from school if they have received all their vaccines and recommended booster.
- Students, ages 5 to 17, exposed to COVID but with no symptoms do not need to be quarantined if they have received the full course of vaccines for their age group.
- Students and school staff who test positive or have been exposed for COVID should quarantine at home for five days after they experience symptoms or receive a positive test. They can return to K-12 schools on the sixth day if their symptoms have improved or if they are symptom free and should continue wearing masks as much as possible for days 6 to 10.
- Students and school staff do not generally need to wear masks outdoors, including during outdoor physical education classes or school sports except for those students who have tested or exposed to COVID during days six through 10 days after completing their quarantine.
Reduction from December Guidance
“We know that students benefit from in-person learning, and safely continuing in-person instruction remains a priority,” said NJDOH Commissioner Judith Persichilli. “These recommendations will help local health departments and schools in handling COVID-19 cases and exposures among students and staff to ensure healthy outcomes for all.”
Under the previous guidelines released in December 2021, New Jersey students exposed to COVID were told to stay home from school for seven days, if they tested negative, or 10 days if they did not get a test. Earlier in the school year, under the original guidelines, students were told to stay home 14 days if they came in close contact with a classmate or teacher with COVID.
The new guidelines on school quarantines only apply to K-12 schools, not daycares or other childcare facilities.
As of Jan. 13, the cumulative number of confirmed coronavirus cases in New Jersey was 1,674,003 with 20,338 total new PCR cases. There were 4,021 probable cases, bringing the cumulative total of antigen tests to 265,086. The total number of individual cases for the state is 1,939,089.
As for those that have passed, the state reported 117 confirmed deaths, bringing that total to 26,984. The state listed probable deaths at 2,869, bringing the overall total to 29,853. State officials noted 96 deaths occurred in the last 24 hours of reporting that have not yet been lab confirmed.
For North Jersey counties on Jan. 13, Bergen had a total of 1,768 new confirmed cases and 455 new probable cases, Essex 2,241 new cases and 151 new probable case, Hudson 1,265 new cases and 293 new probable cases, Morris 917 new confirmed cases and 203 new probable cases, Passaic 1,124 new cases and 210 new probable cases, Sussex 259 new cases and 57 new probable cases, and Warren 181 new cases and 31 new probable cases.
Of the total confirmed deaths in North Jersey, Essex County has the most with 2,978, followed by Bergen at 2,842, Hudson with 2,276, Passaic at 1,927, Morris at 1,099, Sussex at 313, and Warren County at 267.
In regards to probable deaths reported Jan. 10, Bergen has 314, Essex has 310, Morris has 274, Hudson has 223, Passaic has 207, Sussex has 74 and Warren has 27.
Of the 6,145,961 fully vaccinated individuals studied as of Dec. 27, 2021, 128,172 New Jersey residents have tested positive for COVID who were fully vaccinated (2.1%). Of those 1,687 have been hospitalized and 448 COVID-related deaths—less than 1% in each category.
In the week of Dec. 20-26, 2021, breakthroughs accounted for 31.0% of all new cases (31,334 of 101,000), 0.2% of new hospilizations (4 of 2,640), and five of the 146 deaths.
As for the rate of transmission reported Jan. 13, it declined to 1.29 from 1.35 the day before. The daily rate of infections from those tested Jan. 8 was 32.5%; by region, the rate was 31.5% in the North, 33.4% in the Central region and 34.3% in the South.
The state’s dashboard had a count of 5,933 patients hospitalized as all 71 hospitals in the Garden State filed reports Jan. 13. By region, there were 2,648 in the North, 1,881 in the Central and 1,404 in the South. Of those hospitalized, 907 are in intensive care units and 547 on ventilators. A total of 915 patients were discharged in the last 24 hour reporting period.
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 540 long-term care facilities are currently reporting at least one case of COVID-19, accounting for a total of 19,234 of the cases, broken down between 8,204 residents and 11,030 staff.
Cumulatively, 2,330 long-term care facilities have reported an outbreak infecting 42,019 residents and 34,075 staff, for a total of 76,094.
The state’s official death total will now be reported as those that are lab confirmed, sits at 8,854 on Jan. 13. The facilities are reporting to the state 8,181 residents deaths and 147 staff deaths.
According to the state dashboard with just 50% of all New Jersey schools reporting, new student cases totaled 20,091 and new staff cases 8,308 in the last week as of Jan. 2. Cumulatively, 360,698 cases have been reported— 71,029 students and 21,014 staffers.
The vaccination rate for teachers in the Garden State is 84.7% overall. In North Jersey counties, Bergen was tops at 90.8%, followed by Warren at 88.9%, Morris at 87.9%, Sussex at 86.7%, Passaic at 85.9%, Essex at 82.0%, and Hudson at 77.6%, tied for the lowest county in the state.
In regards to outbreaks related to in-school transmissions as of Jan. 11, the state has tracked 388 school outbreaks and 2,255 cases linked to those outbreaks since the 2021/2022 school year starting Aug. 7, up four outbreaks and 28 cases from the week previous.
Outbreaks are defined as three or more laboratory confirmed COVID-19 cases among students or staff with onsets within a 14 day period, linked within the school setting, do not share a household, and were not identified as close contacts of each other in another setting during standard case investigation or contact tracing.
For North Jersey in the new report, Bergen County has 48 confirmed outbreaks with 264 cases, Morris County has 31 confirmed outbreaks with 190 cases, Passaic County has 19 confirmed outbreaks with 170 cases, Sussex has 29 confirmed outbreaks with 156 cases, Essex County has 22 confirmed outbreaks with 119 cases, Hudson County has 18 confirmed outbreaks with 89 cases and Warren County has two confirmed outbreaks with 12 cases.
The number of COVID-19 vaccines administered in New Jersey totaled 13,213,818 in-state, plus an additional 524,310 administered out-of-state for a grand total of 13,738,128 as of Jan. 13.
Of those who have received the vaccine, 6,287,549 received their second dose or the one jab Johnson & Johnson dose in state and another 212,518 out of state, bringing those fully vaccinated to 6,500,067. A total of 75% of those eligible are fully vaccinated in New Jersey and 88% have received at least one dose.
State officials reported boosters and third shots of 1,332,982 for Pfizer and 1,119,596 for Moderna. A total of 52,629 New Jerseyans have received their Johnson & Johnson booster shot. Overall, 2,505,207 have received a booster or third shot. Overall, 46% of those eligible have received their booster.
In North Jersey, Bergen County has 691,031 residents fully vaccinated, Essex 556,058, Hudson 497,714, Morris 372,474, Passaic 337,898, Sussex 89,473, and Warren 58,150.