A growing number of New Jersey kids will finish out this month of school back on remote learning due to a spike in COVID cases statewide and in local districts.

Wall Township Intermediate School is the latest to send kids back home after a spike in cases among students and staff. Superintendent of Schools Tracy Handerhan informed parents in a letter of the change, and said she hopes to have kids back in classrooms as early as Monday.

As a result of the high number of positive COVID-19 cases and the resulting very high number of quarantines, our local-area health department has recommended that Wall Intermediate School pivot to all-virtual instruction for the remainder of this week.  During the last three days, 27 new positive cases have been reported at WIS. - Letter to Wall Township Parents

Other districts are forcing large numbers of students and staff into a 14-day quarantine after either a possible exposure to an infected person, or due to travel out of state over the Thanksgiving holiday.

After a very positive start to the school year when Gov. Phil Murphy ordered kids back into classrooms full-time, schools are mirroring the current spike in new COVID cases in the general population.

New Jersey's COVID dashboard reports nearly 4,000 new positive cases in schools last week alone. That includes 3,024 cases among students.

That remains a small fraction of the overall student population, but enough that close contacts to the infected have triggered mass quarantines in some schools.

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Even if a close contact tests negative, they may not be able to return to school before the 14-day quarantine period is over. Much of the state is classified as having "high" COVID activity, or code "orange." In those areas, the quarantine rules established by the Department of Health do not allow a testing option to return before the two-week quarantine period is over.

The situation has been worsening daily. New Jersey's rate of transmission is now at 1.31 and hospitalizations have now reached their highest levels since last April. Over thirteen hundred people have been hospitalized with COVID and 239 are in need of life supporting care, including 104 on ventilators.

State health officials have predicted more than 2,000 people will be hospitalized by mid-January.

Murphy has not enacted any new restrictions on schools or the state in general, but continues to say "we take nothing off the table."

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