HOBOKEN, NJ (CBSNew York) – It was back to school Monday for the kids in New Jersey, although not everyone was in the class.
Some districts have started the New Year with distance learning, reported Kevin Rincon of CBS2.
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The continued increase in the Omicron variant has meant a return to home learning for tens of thousands of children.
“The days leading up to winter break showed an increase in numbers that we have never seen before,” said Newark Schools Principal Roger Leon.
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Leon heads the state’s largest school system, with nearly 37,000 students. In the last month alone, more than 750 students fell ill, and 500 staff members tested positive.
The neighborhood will remain virtual for another two weeks.
“Everyone should plan with the idea that the students would be back in person on the 18th,” Leon said.
It’s not just Newark. Several locations have become remote during the first days of the New Year to allow them to get tested before returning, and as individual districts weigh their options, the state will not force anyone to move away.
“We currently have no intention or plan to close our schools,” Governor Phil Murphy said.
Instead, the governor said testing will continue and, for now, masks will still be needed.
“It brings us absolutely no joy. No one wants to see our children’s smiles more than I do, but this is what is needed now to keep our schools safe, ”said Murphy.
As for children exposed to classmates who test positive, New Jersey issued new guidelines over the weekend for what it calls its “Test to Stay” program, for asymptomatic unvaccinated students whose the test is negative.
“Students participating in Test to Stay are required to adhere to the enhanced testing and masking recommendations, and must self-quarantine when not in schools,” the Health Commissioner said. Dr. Judy Persichilli.
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At the moment, there is a lack of consistency. In Hoboken, schools will be closed for a few days to allow students to take city-funded PCR tests.
Elsewhere in the state, some districts are returning without any testing. In these communities, many parents are now footing the bill for their own testing, providing peace of mind.
But this is proving problematic for many, reported Ali Bauman of CBS2.
Some families even struggle to find a test and then wait days for the results.
“We were told to come here, in a long line in the cold,” said Beverly Terry of Hackensack.
This was Terry’s fifth attempt to take a test for his 13 year old son.
“The school normally has three or four places where you can take a test. They are all closed and the Walgreens Pharmacy in Hackensack has closed. It’s terrible, said Terry.
They were lining up with the others outside a MedRite site in Paramus, hoping to get an elusive PCR test.
“A lot of places are just quick COVID tests, so I was looking everywhere for PCR and some places where PCR takes about a week or a week and a half to get results,” resident Valentina Velez said.
But the results on the Paramus site are also delayed. The site manager blamed a backup at the lab.
“They promised us results in two or three days and now it’s almost four days later and I still don’t have the results,” said the manager.
“He’s only 13 and he doesn’t have a callback so I want him to be careful,” said Terry.
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CBS2’s Kevin Rincon and Ali Bauman contributed to this report.