October 01, 2020
Seven South Jersey schools have experienced coronavirus outbreaks since the academic year began.
That’s according to a new, statewide dashboard that tracks outbreaks and cases traced to in-school transmission. New Jersey officials unveiled the tool Wednesday.
An outbreak is defined as two or more COVID-19 cases occurring within a 14-day period among students or staff who do not live in the same household and are not identified as close contacts in any non-school setting. In-school transmission is defined as on-campus spread of the virus between students and staff.
Only 11 of the state's 3,000-plus schools have experienced a COVID-19 outbreak. They have resulted in 43 coronavirus cases.
The seven South Jersey outbreaks have produced 26 cases. Three outbreaks have occurred in Cape May County schools. Burlington and Gloucester counties have each had two school outbreaks.
The dashboard does not identify the schools that have experienced outbreaks, or note whether the cases involve students or staff. Schools are required to report any COVID-19 outbreaks to state officials.
Gov. Phil Murphy said the dashboard strives to provide transparency while protecting the privacy of those affected.
"Our overarching aim remains ensuring that our schools do not become the epicenter of new outbreaks," Murphy said. "We have in place the protocols and guidance to ensure that, when identified, a case is removed as quickly and carefully as possible from the building environment."
The reopening of schools has "progressed smoothly and in accordance with the plans that districts submitted," Murphy said. The state has reported minimal disruptions, and any COVID-19 cases have been quickly handled, minimizing the potential for in-school spread.
More than half of New Jersey school districts are using a hybrid learning model. About 35% are conducting class remotely. Approximately 10% are utilizing in-person instruction, while nearly 5% have implemented a combination of all three plans.