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Over 350 NJ school districts opt for hybrid learning model; health officials outline guidance for school outbreaks, cases

Posted at 4:22 PM, Sep 04, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-04 17:20:54-04

NEW JERSEY — Classes are already underway at several New Jersey school districts, and more than half of the districts whose plans were finalized have opted to use the hybrid learning model, according to Gov. Phil Murphy.

About 607 of the state’s school districts have finalized reopening plans. Of those districts, 354 are using the hybrid in-person and remote learning model. Another 172 districts opted to use all-remote learning, and 59 districts are using all in-person learning, the governor said Friday.

Murphy also acknowledged 22 districts are using a combination of plans, meaning some schools within the district could be doing models of in-person learning while others could be following the hybrid or all-remote learning.

Another 180 reopening plans were returned to school districts for revision, and 17 more have yet to be reviewed.

“Don’t expect normalcy or at least an old normalcy,” he said.

The state’s health department also outlined specific health guidance for what to do if a case or cluster of COVID-19 arises in schools.

  • If there’s one confirmed case in the school, the building can remain open. Those in contact with the case must quarantine
  • If there are two or more cases in the same classroom, students or staff in contact must quarantine for 14 days. The school can remain open.
  • If there are two or more cases within 14 days linked to an exposure outside the school setting, the school can remain open.
  • If there are two or more cases linked to a school activity, but cases are in different classrooms, local officials will make recommendations whether or not to close school.
  • If a significant community outbreak impacts multiple, families, staff, etc. School closure should be considered.
  • Two or more cases in school, but connection between cases can’t be identified, schools to close for two weeks.
  • School falls in a region that’s high risk, the school should be closed until the outbreak decreases.

Murphy said Wednesday health and safety experts were consulted while developing the guidelines that informed district-made decisions on how to reopen for the academic year and they are “confident that the steps we have in place will make the kind of chaotic situations we’ve seen in other states far less likely to happen in ours," Murphy said.