New Jersey schools to stay closed for rest of academic year, Murphy says

UPDATED: 1:53 p.m.

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy announced Monday that the Garden State is following 45 other states, including Pennsylvania and Delaware, in closing schools for the rest of the academic year.
Forgoing in-person instruction is “the best course of action,” he said, noting his decision was “guided by safety and science.”

#BREAKING: ALL SCHOOLS WILL REMAIN CLOSED for in-person instruction for the remainder of the school year – to protect the health of our children, our educators, and their families.Guided by safety and science, this is the best course of action. pic.twitter.com/PI5xFxPlVZ

— Governor Phil Murphy (@GovMurphy) May 4, 2020

“This is a difficult decision and I know that many students, parents, and staff would like to be able to return to school,” said the governor. “However, I have been unwavering on the message that we need to make decisions based on science, not emotion. And while New Jersey is making great strides in mitigating the spread of COVID-19, science tells us that at this point, we can’t safely reopen our schools.”

Teachers have been required to conduct remote instruction since schools shuttered in mid-March. 

Private schools with later academic years are closed until at least June 30, Murphy said.

Murphy said he waited as long as possible to make a final decision.

“We did want to give this every shot we could — in particular, for the seniors,” he said, “and it just feels like a bridge too far.”

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.

“There's a lot to consider about how the school year may differ once our students and faculty return,” he said during Monday's news conference.

The state is seeking $310 million in federal assistance, Murphy announced. At least $280 million would go to schools to cover the cost of buying educational technology, cleaning buildings and getting support services for students.

New Jersey is among the hardest-hit states in the country with 7,871 COVID-19 fatalities and more than 120,000 positive cases. However, the governor said the latest numbers are under-reported because of communication outages in the state system over the weekend.

LOOK: This map of New Jersey continues to get lighter and lighter as the rate of doubling of new cases continues to slow. pic.twitter.com/QvkeZAIt7V

— Governor Phil Murphy (@GovMurphy) May 4, 2020

New Jersey has some 600 school districts and about 1.4 million students enrolled, according to the state Education Department.

The department will also work with school officials to share ideas on how to safely recognize 2020 high school grads.

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The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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