NEW JERSEY — All public, private and parochial schools across the state will be closed starting Wednesday in the most aggressive action taken yet by Gov. Phil Murphy as he attempts to slow the spread of coronavirus COVID-19.

The shutdown affects all pre-K through 12 schools and institutions of higher education and will go into effect Wednesday.

Although several school districts across the state had already made the decision to close, Murphy made the move via social media to shut them down “until such time as deemed by health officials to be safe for classes to resume.”

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

Murphy’s office had been working toward a statewide shutdown for more than a week.

He said the move had to be done “smartly” since any school shutdown “could have unintended consequences.”

In recent days, the governor spoke of issues including the lack of computers or tablets for more than 200,000 students to do schoolwork remotely, the impact a shutdown would have on working parents and food insecurity for some 200,000 students.

“For many, the meals they get in school are the only meals they get on any given day,” he said.

The governor didn’t indicate what measures are being taken to address those issues. He said he would be formally announcing the schools shutdown at a press conference at 2 p.m.

Murphy, along with New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont, announced a coordinated set of safeguards in response to coronavirus COVID-19.

The state would be imposing a curfew, and all travel between the hours of 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. should be restricted to essential, emergency personnel.

Also, all casinos, racetracks, theaters and gyms would be closing until further notice starting at 8 p.m.

Restaurants will be restricted to take-out orders.

The governors also announced that they are banning any gatherings of 50 or more people.