What to Know
- New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy says that the state’s schools remain closed for in-person instruction for the remainder of the academic year due to the coronavirus outbreak.
- New Jersey teachers have been required to conduct remote instruction since schools shuttered in mid-March. That will continue.
- The state will be meeting with parents and other stakeholders to consider summer courses, as well as to discuss the 2020-2021 school year, he added.
New Jersey students won’t return to their classrooms this school year as the state continues to fight against the novel coronavirus.
Gov. Phil Murphy made the announcement on social media Monday just before he explained his decision at his daily afternoon COVID-19 news conference. The Democratic governor already had stopped in-person instruction through at least May 15 due to the coronavirus pandemic
Teaching will continue remotely, which began in mid-March, through the end of the academic year, Murphy said while noting his decision was made with "safety and science" in mind.
"We’re working with the principle that public health creates economic health – or in this case, educational health," Murphy said. "If the standards are high to reopen our workplaces... they are even higher when it comes to schools filled with our children."
New Jersey has some 600 school districts and about 1.4 million students enrolled, according to the state Education Department.
Full coverage of the COVID-19 outbreak and how it impacts you
Spring sports also won't resume based on guidance from the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association, Murphy said.
"The NJSIAA Medical Board concluded that due to a lack of testing, viable treatments, and a vaccine, that spring sports were not a viable option," Murphy said.
Private schools with later academic years are closed until at least June 30, the governor said. Bishop Dennis Sullivan also announced all Diocese of Camden Catholic schools will remain closed for the rest of the academic year.
Murphy noted that his decision only applies to what remains of the 2019-2020 academic year and that a decision has yet to be made about summer classes or next school year.
Murphy in earlier statements had held up hope that classes could resume in person and that graduations could be held. He noted Monday that the state will work with school districts to figure out how to handle graduations – be it virtual or some sort of celebration "down the road."
The state is seeking $310 million in federal assistance. At least $280 million would go to schools to cover the cost of buying educational technology, cleaning buildings and getting support services for students.
The governors in neighboring Pennsylvania and Delaware already closed schools in their states for in-person learning for the balance of the academic year. Distance learning has remained in place for students in those states.
Dealing With Financial Crisis Caused by Coronavirus Closures
On Monday, Murphy said he was rescinding a June 2019 executive order, which directed the state treasury to achieve a $1.276 billion surplus by the end of this fiscal year.
"I’m signing an Executive Order that lays bare the severity of the financial crisis we face because of COVID-19," Murphy said.
Murphy stopped short of calling the order a "bailout."
"Absent significant outside assistance, this surplus is no longer feasible," he said.
Murphy called on both parties in Congress to act to save his state and others in need of funds.
"This is about keeping our police and firefighters, our EMTs and paramedics, and our public health workers, our educators, among many others, on the job and working to get us through this," Murphy said.
Murphy also said Monday that he would veto numerous bills appropriating money to various causes and programs in the state. He said he doesn't want to veto the measures, but has no choice due to the Garden State's financial situation.
Murphy said his team would release a specific list of the vetoed bills.
He also said he expects layoffs, but he didn't specify the scale statewide job reductions could happen.
Coronavirus Cases in New Jersey
New Jersey has been the second hardest hit state by COVID-19 with at least 7,910 deaths and more than 128,000 confirmed cases as of Monday. The number of new deaths – only 45 more were reported – was far lower than on normal days and Murphy said that could have been due to an outage in the reporting system.
The Garden State has also been seeing a decline in people hospitalized with the deadly coronavirus with fewer than 5,300 people in hospitals as of Sunday night. That's down from more than 8,000 in mid April.
The percent positivity (the amount of people tested who have confirmed COVID-19 cases) has been declining in recent weeks and, as of Monday, was below 40%.