New Jersey could have a decision by mid-June on when the state will reopen schools to students, Gov. Phil Murphy said Wednesday, adding that “we’ve got to find a way” to have students return to in-person classes.
Murphy made the comments during a radio interview on WFAN’s “Moose and Maggie Show," during which he was asked if there’s a timeline for schools reopening as the Garden State’s coronavirus outbreak continues to slow.
“I don’t want to marry myself to this, but probably by mid-June," Murphy said. "We’ve got to have that pretty-well scoped out. My bias is gonna be: We’ve got to find a way to get back into the buildings. That’s my going-in bias. Again, it’s got to be done right and responsibly.”
The governor was then asked if he envisions have split days for students — meaning some students having school early in the day and others later.
“I would say everything’s on the table,” Murphy said. "I think everything’s got to be on the table.”
Schools in New Jersey — one of the nation’s coronavirus hotspots — have been physically closed since March 18, with students learning remotely. Murphy has said they will remain closed through the end of this school year.
The governor said officials in the state departments of education and health are currently discussing how school will return in September.
The New Jersey School Boards Association released a 30-page report last week revealing the challenges educators face in getting students back to in-person classes. Those include additional bus runs to provide more social distancing and whether students would be required to wear face coverings.
New Jersey, a densely populated state of 9 million residents, has reported at least 11,339 deaths attributed to COVID-19, with 156,628 cases, since the outbreak began here March 4. Only New York has more deaths and cases among American States.
Officials on Wednesday announced 148 new deaths and 970 new positive tests in New Jersey.
With the number of hospitalizations and new cases dropping, Murphy has gradually eased the near-lockdown restrictions he placed New Jersey under in late March to fight the spread of the virus.
In his most recent moves, he allowed professional sports teams to train and compete again and said graduation ceremonies could be held outdoors as of July 6.
But nonessential businesses remain limited to curbside service, restaurants remain limited to takeout or delivery, and residents are still ordered to stay home as much as possible.
Murphy has said New Jersey is getting closer to Stage 2 of its multi-stage reopening plan, though he has yet to provide hard dates or data benchmarks the state has to hit.