As New Jersey continues its push to get coronavirus vaccine doses into the arms of millions of residents, Gov. Phil Murphy is calling for schools to plan to open for in-person learning in the fall and allowing for outdoor interstate youth sports to resume this weekend.
At his Wednesday COVID-19 news briefing, the first-term Democrat announced that he would let the ban on outdoor interstate youth sports expire Friday. The prohibition remains in effect for indoor competitions.
Coronavirus-related health and safety protocols must remain in place and Murphy urged teams to not go far to compete.
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Continuing to focus on young people, Murphy on Wednesday called on all schools to get students back into classrooms.
"Now is the time for all of our schools to meaningfully move forward with a return to in-person instruction – whether it be full-time or through a hybrid schedule," he said.
Thursday marked one year since Murphy closed all schools as the coronavirus spread. As schools were given clearance to reopen this past fall, distancing, masking and other safety measures were put in place -- something Murphy said is working.
"We’ve had roughly 800 total instances of transmission (in schools) since August," Murphy said. "That’s less than two-tenths of one percent of our cases over that time,"
Murphy noted that as of this week, 98 of the state's 811 public-school districts, charter schools and other schools remained all virtual.
"Come September, it is our complete expectation that every school will be open for full-time in-person instruction for the 2021-2022 academic year," he said. Getting all teachers vaccinated will help with the return.
As the state slowly relaxes coronavirus restrictions, Murphy said the public mask mandate remains in effect.
"We must remain vigilant and smart," he said. "No knucklehead behavior."
To date, more than 751,000 coronavirus cases in the Garden State have been confirmed by PCR tests. Another nearly 98,000 cases have been confirmed by antigen test. With 38 new deaths reported Wednesday, at least 21,530 people are confirmed to have died from COVID-19-related complications.
Cases continue as the state ramps up its vaccine efforts. More than 3 million doses have been given at this point, with around 1.1 million people fully vaccinated.
"Our initial goal is to get 70% of our adult population vaccinated – 4.7 million," Murphy said. "If you count the initial doses of Pfizer and Moderna, along with the number of Johnson & Johnson doses administered, we’re at roughly 45% of our target having received at least the first shot."