This article is being updated as information comes in.
CAMDEN, NJ — Statewide school closures are a “when” not an “if," Gov. Phil Murphy said during a Friday afternoon press conference updating the impact of the coronavirus on New Jersey.
However, immediate school closures were not ordered.
Murphy also announced an additional 21 presumed positive cases of COVID-19 in New Jersey — making the state total 50 so far.
Camden County has two presumed positive cases as of Friday — a man and a woman both from Cherry Hill.
A Bergen County man is the sole death linked to the virus so far, and 80 cases are currently under investigation.
“We're working toward the inevitability that every district will be closed for a prolonged period of time,” Murphy said in his first public appearance since having surgery to remove a tumor. “For many districts, that time is now. For others, we're working to ensure that when their time comes, they will be prepared to provide all critical services for their community.”
Murphy said that each district has its own set of challenges in preparing for alternative instruction noting that 259,000 New Jersey school kids do not have devices for remote learning.
He said while school closures will happen, “we have to do it responsibly.”
The Camden School District announced Thursday that, “In the coming days, communications will be sent to families outlining our procedures in the event of an extended district closure.”
Lamont Repollet, Commissioner for the Department of Education, said that 354 school districts had decided to close in New Jersey as of Friday afternoon — including four with confirmed exposure to COVID-19 and one presumed positive case.
“We understand the significant impact that COVID-19 has on our school communities and we will continue to support our districts and communities as we combat the spread of the virus and strive to keep our families and our students safe," Repollet said.
As some students rely on access to breakfast and lunch at New Jersey schools, he also noted that 85% of schools have plans in place to address food security and the remaining 15% of schools are being, “connected to opportunities"
Plans for Camden’s more than 15,000 school children vary at this time as the city comprises district, renaissance and charter schools.
The Camden City School District (CCSD) announced closures until at least March 31.
Mastery Schools will be closed until at least March 30.
KIPP has also announced closures through March 27.
LEAP Academy per state guidelines will close for a minimum of two weeks as of Wednesday.
Uncommon Camden Prep School officials announced they would cancel in-person classes starting Friday until at least April 13.
“Although we still have no known positive cases in our schools or offices, we want to ensure that we are helping to slow the spread of the virus by closing our schools and transitioning to remote student learning,” Camden Prep spokesperson Barbara Martinez told TAPinto Camden.