As a continuing service to its members, the NJSBA is offering the latest news and information to help boards of education respond to COVID-19, also known as the coronavirus.

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On March 16, state officials reported 80 new cases in New Jersey, bringing the total number to 178, with two deaths. Gov. Phil Murphy has recommended the cancellation of all events of more than 50 people in an attempt to stop the spread of the virus. He announced a statewide shutdown of public and private schools, effective on Wednesday, March 18.

On March 9, Gov. Murphy declared a state of emergency in New Jersey, which essentially qualifies the state for federal funding to handle an outbreak. Additional information on the declaration can be found in an news story, “What Does It Mean?

On March 5, the New Jersey Department of Education issued Guidance Regarding Requirements for Public Health-Related School Closure.  It states, in part, the following:

“In the event a board of education is provided a written directive by either the NJDOH (New Jersey Department of Health) or the health officer of the jurisdiction to institute a public health-related closure, the board of education may utilize home instruction to provide instructional services to enrolled students. The provision of home instruction services should be guided by N.J.A.C. 6A:16-10.1 and may include direct services, online instruction, services provided through contract with another district board of education, or any other means developed by the district to meet the needs of its students.”

“To be clear, this flexibility to count a day on which public school facilities are closed toward the board of education’s statutory 180-day requirement applies strictly to public health-related school closures and not to any other type of closure or other days on which public school facilities are not made available. Closures made absent a written directive from either the NJDOH or the health officer of the jurisdiction will not count.”