NJ Schools to Remain Closed for Rest of Year

At today’s COVID-19 press briefing, Gov. Phil Murphy announced that New Jersey’s schools will remain closed for the remainder of the 2019-2020 academic year, while private schools with longer academic years will remain closed until at least June 30.

Murphy said that students and faculty will continue with remote learning in order to meet the  state-required minimum of 180 instruction days.

The decision comes as the total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the state sits at 128,269, with 7,910 confirmed fatalities from the virus. 

“This is a difficult decision and I know that many students, parents, and staff would like to be able to return to school,” Murphy said. “While New Jersey is making great strides in mitigating the spread of COVID-19 … the reality is that we cannot safely reopen our schools for in-person instruction.”

The Department of Education will hold stakeholder meetings on potential summer programs as well as the reopening of buildings for the 2020-2021 school year.

The governor said that New Jersey has also applied for $310 million in federal education assistance, including $280 million to help districts cover costs such as purchasing educational technology, cleaning and sanitizing buildings, ensuring student support services, and more.

State Surplus No Longer Realistic

Murphy today also rescinded Executive Order No. 73, which sought a $1.28 billion surplus by the end of the fiscal year, because that surplus is “no longer realistic.”

He said that New Jersey will continue to push for direct federal assistance and continue to work with the Legislature for “short-term borrowing to bridge immediate needs.”

“We are on the brink of having to make very tough – and quite frankly very unpalatable – decisions,” Murphy said. “We need to have these funds as a safeguard should direct federal assistance to our state fail to surface.”

NJ Hospitals to Receive $1.7 billion

Over the weekend, Murphy announced that the US Department of Health and Human Services will be sending 53 New Jersey hospitals $1.7 billion by the middle of this week. The New Jersey hospitals are among 395 nationwide that were deemed hardest hit by the pandemic.

Murphy said New Jersey is receiving the second largest amount of funding, behind only New York. In total, the 395 US hospitals are sharing $12 billion.

“Many hospitals have been taking a financial, as well as a general beating, over these past two months. … We cannot afford to lose one hospital, one doctor, or one nurse,” the governor said. “This funding will help healthcare systems remain on firm financial standing and we will work closely with them to understand how these funds are being used to advance access and treatments for residents.”

Regional PPE Initiative

Also over the weekend, Murphy, along with the governors of New York, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Rhode Island and Massachusetts, announced a joint multi-state agreement to develop a regional supply chain for personal protective equipment (PPE), other medical equipment and testing. 

The states will coordinate policies regarding the inventory of PPE each state’s health care infrastructure should have to be prepared for a possible second wave of COVID-19. The states will also coordinate policies on what supplies local governments should have on hand for their first responders, and if any requirements regarding PPE for the non-for-profit and private sector are needed.

The goal of the regional approach is to decrease the potential for disruptions in the supply chain for PPE and medical equipment, including sanitizer and ventilators, and testing, and promote regional economic development.

The states will also explore how emerging technologies could be leveraged to provide alternative methods of production of various pieces of equipment.

“Our states should never be in a position where we are actively competing against each other for life-saving resources,” Murphy said. “By working together across the region, we can obtain critical supplies as we begin the process to restart our economies, while also saving money for our taxpayers. This concept is at the heart of the regional approach we’ve established.”

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