Cumberland County, NJ, last school to close due to COVID

As COVID epidemics increase in New Jersey schools, another district has moved students into distance learning.

16 positive cases of COVID among students and staff have been confirmed at Myron Powell Elementary School in Lawrence Township, Cumberland County. School officials have announced a distance learning schedule until at least October 12. The outbreak is likely larger than the number of positive tests reported, as results have yet to be received for a number of other people.

In a letter to parents, Shelley Magan, the school’s chief administrator, said the Cumberland County Health Department recommended the elementary school be closed for the following reasons:

  • Large community spread: Our region has the highest rate of cases
  • Low vaccination rate: Cumberland County has one of the lowest rates despite a high number of vaccination sites per capita
  • Delay in test results: Depending on where a person is tested, results take 5 days or more. It also delays contact tracing and rapid student / staff quarantine.
  • We have 16 confirmed positive cases among our students and staff AND are awaiting several test results.

Gov. Phil Murphy has insisted on a return to full-time classroom instruction for the new school year which begins just a few weeks ago. He insisted that there would be no distance learning option except for an outbreak.

The New Jersey Department of Health defines an “epidemic” as three or more cases transmitted between unrelated students and staff.

According to the state’s COVID Dashboard, there have already been 23 outbreaks in New Jersey schools and more than 100 cases among students and staff.

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