New Jersey schools will stay closed for the remainder of the academic year

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New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy announced Monday that the state’s schools will stay closed for the remainder of the academic year to continue to curb further spread of the coronavirus.

“As I have noted before, we are working with the principle that public health creates economic health, or in this case, public health creates educational health,” Murphy said at a news briefing. He directed all private and public school leaders to update their preparedness plans to continue remote learning.

The governor said a decision on potential summer programs has not yet been made. He added that the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association has advised against the resumption of spring sports.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Friday that schools and colleges in New York will remain closed for the remainder of the academic year. Cuomo said there’s not enough time to come up with a reopening plan that would keep students and educators safe for schools to reopen this academic year.

New Jersey has been the second hardest-hit state in the U.S., following New York. While the state continues to have the second-highest number of positive cases of Covid-19, the rate of new cases and hospitalizations have plateaued over the past few weeks.

After declaring a state of emergency and a public health emergency on March 9, the New Jersey governor closed all public and private schools and colleges in the state on March 18 to mitigate the spread of the disease.

During the briefing, Murphy also announced that he’s rescinding the executive order signed on June 30, 2019, which directed the state’s treasury department to achieve a $1.28 billion surplus by the end of this fiscal year.

He said, “This is no longer feasible” due to “plummeting state revenues” and “skyrocketing costs” of fighting the pandemic.

“We’re on the brink of having to make very tough, and quite frankly, very unpalatable decisions. …We need to have these funds as a safeguard should direct federal assistance to our state fail to surface,” he added.

The New Jersey governor unveiled a road map for restoring the state’s economy on April 27. The plan entailed six steps on how to move forward in reopening businesses. Murphy has previously emphasized the need for reopening in multiple phases to prevent a resurgence of the coronavirus.

New Jersey reported 1,621 new positive cases on Monday, bringing the total to 128,269. The state also reported 45 new deaths for a total of 7,910.