March 5, 2020 — UPDATE: The New Jersey Department of Education issued Guidance Regarding Requirements for Public Health-Related School Closure  at 5:45 p.m.

As a service to its members, the New Jersey School Boards Association is offering information and guidance today on what experts say school districts should do to prepare for a possible outbreak of the coronavirus if it comes to New Jersey. 

As of March 3, according to the New Jersey Department of Health, no cases have been confirmed in the state.

In the United States, there are now more than 100 confirmed cases in 15 states and six deaths linked to the virus. Worldwide, more than 92,000 cases have been reported, with more than 81,100 in China, which first alerted the World Health Organization about the dangers of the virus in December 2019. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that more than 3,125 people have died from the disease, most of them in China, as of March 3.

“Since boards of education are responsible for the health and safety of 1.4 million students in our state, it is important that we know the facts and have a plan in place to deal with any level of threat that emerges,” said NJSBA Executive Director Dr. Lawrence S. Feinsod. “That is why we are providing the latest guidance available today from the National School Boards Association and the American Association of School Administrators.

“In addition, the NJSBA is providing links to existing policies that merit review and may become relevant if the threat from the virus fully materializes,” Feinsod said. “In the paragraphs below, you will find resources, links and information that may be of service as you develop your contingency plans should you need them.”

State and National Resources

Guidance Regarding Requirements for Public Health-Related School Closure The New Jersey Department of Education offers addresses the 180-day instructional requirement in light of health-related school closings. Issued March 5, 2020.

New Jersey Department of Health COVID-19 Guidance for Child Care and K-12 Schools The latest guidance from the New Jersey Department of Health, UPDATED March 4, 2020.

Updated 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) Guidance for Child Care and K-12 Schools Memo from the New Jersey Department of Education, issued on March 3, 2020.

Interim Guidance for Administrators of US Childcare Programs and K-12 Schools to Plan, Prepare, and Respond to Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Developed by the CDC, this online reference includes a section on “Guidance for schools which do not have COVID-19 identified in their community.”

COVID-19: Preparing for Widespread Illness in Your School Community Developed by the National School Boards Association, in collaboration with the National Association of School Nurses, the document addresses “Planning for COVID-19 Challenges in Your School District,” offers links to resources from the health agencies, and includes a “COVID-19 Planning Checklist.”

COVID-19 (“Coronavirus”) Information and Resources for Schools and School Personnel Information from the U.S. Department of Education

NJSBA Policies

The following NJSBA sample policies may be of assistance:

  • 5141.2 Illness – Covers control of contagious diseases or conditions.
  • 4112.4 Health — Exposure control plan and bloodborne pathogens.
  • 5141 Health – Covers preparation for the potential disruption of a pandemic flu outbreak, and includes a link to federal resources on pandemic influenza.
  • 6173 – Home instruction during prolonged absence.

The NJSBA will continue to monitor the situation and provide more resources and information as they become available.