Murphy Leaves Hope for N.J. Schools Ahead of Reopening Plans


(Bloomberg) --

Governor Phil Murphy left open the possibility of New Jersey students returning to class in May as he prepared to detail a framework for re-opening the state’s businesses, workplaces and government services.

“We’re going to go through later today the principles that will guide us” on easing the state’s social-distancing policy, Murphy said during an interview on CNBC. Hospitalizations must go down first and testing must at least double, he said.

“We have some amount of optimism” that testing will increase dramatically in the next month, he said. Almost 6,000 New Jerseyans have died and at least 109,000 people have tested positive for the coronavirus. Only New York has more cases.

The state needs contact-tracing and isolation plans in place, he said in another interview with MSNBC. “This is a big fight but it might not be the last fight,” he said, as the state must prepare for a likely second wave several months from now. “We want to make sure that we’re never caught flat-footed again.”

“There is a chance” schools will open before the end of the term in June, he said on CNBC. Public and private schools now are closed through May 15 and teachers are conducting classes via computer.

“This is all going to be a new norm -- including what school looks like,” Murphy said of the state’s return. It’s likely that schools will have distancing policies and require face coverings, he said.

“We’re still losing folks -- in some cases, several hundred a day. We’re nowhere near out of the woods yet,” Murphy said.

Seven Northeastern states including New Jersey are working together on policy to keep infections down as social-distancing orders are relaxed in the coming weeks.

“You’re going to see a deep amount of coordination,” Murphy said.

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