LAKEWOOD — Police are defending their decision to allow a private high school to house at least 100 students after breaking up two weddings for violating the governor's executive order prohibiting gatherings of over 50.

Police told News 12 New Jersey that they are aware of the Mesivta of Lakewood, a private high school on Kennedy Boulevard, where students have been seen going in and out of a building.

Many of the students are from out of town and had no place else to go when the school was suddenly closed, police told News 12.

The Jewish community publication VozIzNeias.com criticized school leaders for "defying all instructions from doctors and local, state, and federal officials … in complete disregard of the ongoing global health crisis."

Lakewood police did not immediately return New Jersey 101.5 request seeking more information on Friday morning.

Lakewood has become the epicenter of COVID-19 in Ocean County with the township having 26 of the 48 known cases in the county, according to the Ocean County Health Department, whose own count was ahead of the state's official tally Thursday afternoon.

Police said that on Tuesday night officers broke up two weddings that each had more than 50 people in attendance. No summons were issued but Police Chief Greg Meyer told The Lakewood Scoop that property owners would be ticketed for future infractions.

Contact reporter Dan Alexander at Dan.Alexander@townsquaremedia.com or via Twitter @DanAlexanderNJ

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