New Jersey schools will remain closed for at least another four weeks, Gov. Phil Murphy said Thursday, pushing the pandemic closure closer to the end of the school year and graduation season.

Murphy on Thursday said he had not decided on what would happen to schools beyond May 15.

“Nobody wants to open the schools more than I do,” he said during his daily news briefing. “I am the father of four kids, one of whom is in high school, and I want him to return to his regular classrooms. But I can’t do that right now. But I remain hopeful that we can.”

Murphy said evidence indicates that that his school and business shutdown orders and the state’s social distancing efforts have been working, with the doubling-rates of COVID-19 cases in almost all counties on a slowing trend. But the death toll and the number of cases continues to mount, meaning that the state cannot give up just yet, he said.

“We cannot be guided by emotion. We need to be guided by where the facts on the ground, science and public health take us. That means it will not be safe to reopen our schools or stat sports back up for at least another four weeks,” Murphy said. “I know this is hard. It’s hard on all of us … But if we all keep pulling and working together, I hope it will put me in a position in a month’s time to make a different announcement. There is no doubt we are saving lives and we must maintain the course.”

Governors across the country have been getting pushback from some corners about their quarantine orders. President Donald Trump has been reluctant from the start to maintain long-term closures and has repeatedly spoken about pulling back many of the restrictions even though public health officials have warned about giving up too soon.

On Thursday, New Jersey reported another 4,391 cases of COVID-19 for a total of more than 75,300 since the start of March. Another 362 deaths brought the death toll in the state to 3,518, which Murphy noted was more than the state’s loss of life in World War I.

More than 8,200 hospital patients had COVID-19 on Wednesday night, with more than 1,600 of them on ventilators. More than 800 had been discharged overnight.

The governing body that regulates high school sports in the state said Thursday that they “remain hopeful” about holding a spring season by June 30.

“As noted, NJSIAA is committed to doing whatever is possible to provide New Jersey’s student-athletes with some type of spring season. We have models in place that allow for competition starting as late as May 25, but given the late start date, tournament play may not be viable,” the organization said in a written statement.

Sergio Bichao is deputy digital editor at New Jersey 101.5. Send him news tips: Call 609-359-5348 or email sergio.bichao@townsquaremedia.com.