NEW JERSEY — For many New Jersey school districts, this week will mark the first day of class. 

While all have prepared — opting for in-person, remote or a hybrid of the two — new coronavirus cases are to be expected, according to state officials. 

“We have all the public health protocols and procedures in place to safeguard our children, our educators, staff and their families,” Gov. Phil Murphy said at his daily coronavirus press briefing on September 8. “When there is a case of coronavirus that arises in one of our schools, and folks there will be, we have the procedures in place to guide district leaders and local health officials to mitigate that.”

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The governor said 388 schools will teach in a hybrid format, 69 in-person and 238 all-remote. Just one school in the Garden State is still awaiting approval on its plan.  He said that as of the briefing, there were no school outbreaks or instances where students needed to be quarantined.

Following the extended Labor Day weekend, Murphy said the impact on the pandemic of resuming indoor activities (education, dining, performance venues, movie theaters) won’t be known just yet.

“It’s going to be hard to tell until we monitor trends for the next couple weeks because as you know we just implemented the indoor dining and other entertainment allowances,” Murphy said. 

Anecdotally, he added, “we had very few reported cases of knucklehead behavior.”

In New Jersey, there were 284 newly-confirmed cases of COVID-19 (194,667 total) and five new deaths (14,213 total and 1,783 considered probable). The daily positivity rate was 1.83 percent as of September 4 and the rate of transmission (Rt) slightly increased to 1.10. 

Outlining the hospital census, the health department reported 419 people hospitalized for the coronavirus, (227 confirmed), 82 patients in intensive or critical care and 33 people requiring ventilators.

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President Donald Trump has said a coronavirus vaccine may arrive before the end of 2020, potentially before Election Day. Asked about that timeline, Murphy said, “I would be lying if I said that was not on the very aggressive side.” 

“Based on the timeframes for either therapeutics or vaccines that we've had with our the medical folks we talked to ... I think we have been led to believe sort of year-end would be at least a wave to address vulnerable communities, frontline healthcare and other essential workers,” he added.

 

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