Murphy Announces New School Mandate For Reporting COVID Cases

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on pinterest
Share on facebook
Share on twitter

Gov. Phil Murphy announced yesterday that the state Department of Health will order all schools to provide weekly reports with data on infections among staff and students and on immunization rates among those eligible, starting later this month. Earlier this year Murphy ordered all school employees be vaccinated by Oct. 18, or be tested at least once a week, and he has mandated that everyone, including children of all ages, wear masks in school buildings.

“It’s unavoidable that as we live more of our lives indoors this (virus) will kick up again,” Murphy said at Wednesday’s pandemic briefing.

The number of school-based outbreaks has doubled since last week to 69, Murphy noted. But he said he was satisfied with the fact that fewer than 400 students and staff had been diagnosed with COVID-19 since schools reopened in September. There are some 1.3 million children in New Jersey’s public schools and 130,000 teachers, plus administrators and support staff.

“Right now we expect an uptick (in these measures), and we expect it to occur after Thanksgiving, between Thanksgiving and Christmas,” Health Department Commissioner Judith Persichilli said. “But we do expect it to be within a range that the capacity can be handled very well by our hospitals.”

While labs and hospitals report COVID-19 positive tests to the State Department of Health, schools do not. Now they will be required to do so as well. These reports must include data from in-school testing as well as cases reported by parents, teachers, and staff. In addition, schools must report the percentage of staff and students who have received the coronavirus vaccine.

“It’s unavoidable that as we live more of our lives indoors this (virus) will kick up again,” Murphy said at Wednesday’s pandemic briefing.

Indeed, while Jersey’s numbers are not too bad (the state reported another 1,512 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 20 more confirmed deaths this week), the number of school-based outbreaks has doubled, with 69 outbreaks counted. Since schools reopened in September, 400 staff and students have tested positive for COVID. These numbers do not include children who caught COVID during activities outside the classroom, including school sports. 

For example, Toms River has had many cases and still has 600 students quarantined but, because those infections occurred outside of school, they are not included on the state’s dashboard. Now those numbers will be included.

Persichilli explained, “The (health) department will collect the information, analyze it for trends and share it in the aggregate on our (public data) dashboard. Layered strategies of testing, vaccination for those eligible, masking, physical distancing, handwashing and staying home when sick are the best tools for keeping our schools and communities safe for in-person activities.”

Share on facebook
Facebook
Share on twitter
Twitter
Share on linkedin
LinkedIn
Share on pinterest
Pinterest

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.