ESSEX COUNTY, NJ — After COVID-19 claimed its first New Jersey victim on Tuesday, multiple New Jersey colleges—including nearby campuses like Rutgers University Newark, Seton Hall, Kean, Montclair State and NJIT—have moved all course instruction online for the remainder of the semester, and several K-12 school districts have adjusted their calendars to accommodate professional development workshops needed to prepare for online instruction in the event that schools are ordered to close.

In an effort to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus COVID-19, the New Jersey Department of Education (NJDOE) has informed all districts that they will be allowed to utilize online learning in order to satisfy the required 180 days of school in the event that the New Jersey Department of Health (NJDOH) orders them to close. Both entities have advised that all school districts “should be making plans for what to do if there are recommendations for closing schools or canceling events,” as there is a possibility that all New Jersey districts may be asked to close either preemptively or reactively as a result of the spreading virus.

In response, several Essex County districts—including Livingston Public Schools, West Orange Public SchoolsMillburn Township Public SchoolsWest Essex Regional School DistrictMontclair Public SchoolsCaldwell-West Caldwell Public SchoolsSouth Orange-Maplewood School DistrictCedar Grove SchoolsVerona Public Schools and Nutley Public Schools—have scheduled either full-day closings or half days to ensure that their educators are prepared for this eventuality while others continue to discuss their options. (Click on the links for local coverage from each district.)

Sign Up for Livingston Newsletter
Our newsletter delivers the local news that you can trust.

Districts are also assessing their capacity to provide online instruction to younger students and working to address public concerns regarding field trips, athletics, school performances and other scenarios that are now being considered “questionable” according to Centers for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines.

On Tuesday afternoon, state officials confirmed the death of a 69-year-old man from Bergen County, and the number of presumed positive cases in the state has reached 15, according to New Jersey Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli. Additionally, more than 30 individuals were under investigation as of Tuesday afternoon.

According to NJDOH officials, the results of investigations that have been announced thus far are based on the state lab, but the CDC has yet to further validate the cases.

“We are sad to report the first death in a case of COVID-19 in New Jersey," said Gov. Phil Murphy and Lt. Gov. Sheila Oliver in a joint statement. "Our prayers are with the family during this difficult time. We remain vigilant to doing all we can—across all levels of government—to protect the people of New Jersey.”

As presumed positive cases mount statewide, Murphy announced on Tuesday that his administration would look to support consumer access to COVID-19 testing—including waiving consumer cost sharing for all medically necessary COVID-19 testing. The waiver includes services related to the emergency room, urgent care and office visits related to COVID-19 testing for the state’s individual, small-and large-group markets.

“As we continue to strengthen our efforts to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, we must ensure that our residents are focused on their health and not on the cost of medically necessary testing,” said Murphy. “These actions bolster our state’s coordinated response and preparedness efforts by eliminating affordability concerns for New Jerseyans.”

There have been no confirmed cases in Essex County. Of the additional four cases announced on Tuesday, two are individuals from Bergen County and two are from Burlington County.

The other presumed positive cases announced in New Jersey thus far are as follows: 

  • A 61 year old from Cherry Hill (Camden County)
  • An 18 year old from Clifton (Passaic County)
  • A 48 year old from Berkeley Heights (Union County)
  • A 27-year-old man from Little Silver (Monmouth County)
  • An 83-year-old woman from Hazlet (Monmouth County)
  • A 30 year old from Teaneck (Bergen County) 
  • A 70-year-old male healthcare worker from Teaneck (Bergen County)
  • A 32-year-old man from West New York (Hudson County)
  • A 32-year-old Fort Lee man (Bergen County)
  • A 55-year-old Englewood man (Bergen County)
  • An Englewood woman in her 30’s (Bergen County)

In an effort to ramp up New Jersey’s efforts to contain the spread of the disease, Murphy declared a State of Emergency and a Public Health Emergency on Monday. CLICK HERE for the full story.