Reopening New Jersey: State guidance says schools with few positive cases can stay open

NEW JERSEY (WABC) -- The New Jersey Department of Health has issued COVID-19 recommendations for schools that cover steps to take to respond to cases and outbreaks.

Health Commissioner Judy Persichilli says much of the decisions would be based on what the local public health investigations find, but the state has developed a short matrix to help guide the decision making.

Here is the state's guidance as outlined by Persichilli at Gov. Phil Murphy's daily briefing Friday.

If there is one confirmed case, the school can remain open. Any students or staff in close contact with that case should be excluded from the school for 14 days.

"If there are two or more cases in the same classroom, or what we would say is an outbreak linked to one cohort, the school can remain open.Any students or staff or close contacts of that case are excluded from the school for 14 days," Persichilli said.

The local health officials would make recommendations based on their investigation whether the entire classroom should be considered exposed.

"If there are two or more cases within 14 days, linked to an exposure outside of the school setting, or what we would call an alternate exposure, the school can remain open and close contacts of the case are excluded from the school for 14 days," Persichilli said.

If there are two or more cases within that two week period, or 14 days, linked together by a school activity, but in different classrooms that would be considered an outbreak including multiple cohorts.

Local health officials would make recommendations on whether to close the school based on that investigation.

If a significant community outbreak is impacting multiple staff, students and families served by the school, closure of the school for 14 days should be considered.

If there are two or more cases within a two week period that occur across multiple classrooms and a clear connection between those cases cannot be easily identified, it's recommended to close the school for 14 days.

If a school falls in a region that is very high risk or red on our map according to the department's activity level report, the school should be closed until the transmission decreases.

Persichilli said school closures will be a local decision that should be made by school administrators, in consultation with local public health officials.

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