TOMS RIVER, New Jersey (WABC) -- School districts in New Jersey reported 39 outbreaks this week with 219 total cases - an increase from 23 outbreaks last week.
School outbreaks are defined as cases where three or more unrelated people tested positive after contracting the virus at school.
One concerning outbreak is developing in Toms River where hundreds of students are out of class due to COVID-19 either because they tested positive for the virus or because of quarantine, according the school district website.
As of Wednesday afternoon, the district reported 223 students and 33 staff members with confirmed cases. Those figures represent total cases since the school year began and not current active infections. Another 864 students and 26 staff members are currently quarantined.
In a statement, the district wrote "the number of students in quarantine - which, again, includes those who recently reported testing positive - represents six percent of our student population."
Although the district started the year mask optional in buildings and spaces without air conditioning, masks have been required in all spaces since September 20.
Governor Phil Murphy says 38 school districts across the state have reported in-school transmission including 182 student cases and 37 staff cases.
"There is one outbreak in Passaic that has impacted 50 students but zero staff," Murphy said at his Wednesday COVID-19 briefing. "This one outbreak accounts for 27% of all student cases."
Murphy said the health department is working with officials in Toms River for more clarity on the possible outbreak there. Health officials are unsure of the transmission and are still investigating whether the virus was spread in school.
The district is the sixth largest in the state and has 15,500 students.
State Health Commissioner Judy Persichill stressed vaccination among students as the key to decrease in school transmission
60.1% of 12 to 17 year olds have gotten one shot. some counties are higher.
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