New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy told CNBC on Friday that he believes K-12 schools in the state will reopen for face-to-face classes in the fall.
“We want them to, and I think they will,” Murphy said in “Squawk Box,” while acknowledging that hopes of reopening schools could be derailed if coronavirus cases were to become truly bad in the state leaving the state. summer.
“Imagine predicting in late April what the end of June would be like in the United States. Probably none of us would have done it right, right, or wrong,” the Democrat added. “So with that big warning, in two months time, I think we will go back to school. It will be a new normal. There will be established protocols that have not been in place before.”
Murphy’s comments came on Friday when schools at all levels in the United States are trying to develop plans on how to safely welcome students to receive in-person instruction this fall. Many schools across the country switched to remote learning in March when the Covid-19 outbreak intensified.
Murphy said he will have more details on the state’s plan at a press conference on Friday, but said “obviously there will be a great emphasis on social distancing.”
“The hardest nut to decipher … is the young, healthy, asymptomatic person who unintentionally passes the virus on to someone from a previous generation and / or someone with underlying health problems, and that’s the one we should be more cautious about,” Murphy said.
Last week, New Jersey issued mandatory guidelines and recommendations to colleges and universities on how they can resume classes in person. Schools must submit plans to the State Office of the Secretary for Higher Education at least 14 days before they intend to restart. A school’s plan should detail protocols for social distancing, the use of facial coverings, and the sanitation of campus buildings.
The reopening of schools is critical to the U.S. economy, as trade restrictions are eased and more employees are called to the office and the workplace. Remote schooling and lack of childcare have presented challenges for all workers during the pandemic.
“There is a risk of going back to school,” Tennessee Senator Lamar Alexander, who was secretary of education under President George HW Bush, told CNBC. “In my opinion, there is an increased risk of not going back to school and the harm it will cause to children, parents and the economy.”
New Jersey is currently in the second phase of the reopening of the coronavirus, and restaurants can offer cookouts, and most nonessential companies can operate with capacity limits. The shopping malls will reopen next week. Casinos can also reopen with 25% capacity on July 2.
“We have to take incremental steps. This is a virus that no one knows everything about,” Murphy said. “We are learning as we go, and the benefit of being incremental is the use you can most easily learn from a given step you have taken.”
New Jersey has more than 170,000 confirmed cases of Covid-19, according to the state Department of Health. More than 13,000 people in the state have died.
Daily cases in New Jersey have decreased dramatically since April, when the state had several days for more than 4,000 new infections. The daily case count has been greater than 500 since June 13.
Murphy, along with the governors of New York and Connecticut, imposed a 14-day quarantine on Wednesday on travelers arriving from states that have increasing cases of Covid-19 that exceed certain benchmarks. The order currently includes Texas and Florida, which have paused their reopening plans.