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Surging Coronavirus Cases Prompt Boonton, N.J. Schools To Go Virtual

BOONTON, N.J. (CBSNewYork) -- As coronavirus numbers continue to rise in New Jersey, a Morris County school district was forced to make a tough decision Thursday.

Boonton, N.J.'s superintendent said all schools in the district will move to virtual classes for the foreseeable future, CBS2's Meg Baker reported.

The strong response to a fall surge of COVID-19 impacts 1,400 students, who will now be learning from home until the end of January.

Superintendent Robert Presuto said he made the call after several Morris County schools had to revert to virtual instruction multiple times. Presuto said there were also concerns about the upcoming holidays and travel.

Additionally, a number of teachers in the district were unable to return to the classroom because they are considered high-risk.


Other towns responding to the fall surge include Westwood in Bergen County.

The borough's recreational activities are being postponed for two weeks following the school district's pause on in-person instruction.

"I understand the concern of the parents. I understand their frustration. It's hard to deal with. You're concerned about COVID, but you're also concerned about the mental health of children. Activities are good for them. Playing is good for them. Being in sports is good for them... The balance of the two is something we're going to have to work out over a longer period of time," said Westwood Business Administrator Ben Kezmarsky.

CORONAVIRUS: NY Health Dept. | NY Call 1-(888)-364-3065 | NYC Health Dept. | NYC Call 311, Text COVID to 692692 | NJ COVID-19 Info Hub | NJ Call 1-(800)-222-1222 or 211, Text NJCOVID to 898211 | CT Health Dept. | CT Call 211 | Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

As predicted, numbers in New Jersey are up. The state reported 1,180 new cases Thursday.

"The overnight numbers, and I will tell you right now, they are not pretty. Essex County is reporting 196 of those cases. Bergen, Hudson, Union counties are also all reporting more than 100 cases," said Gov. Phil Murphy.

Watch Meg Baker's report -- 

The governor is self-quarantining out of an abundance of caution after he and his wife went to Pilsner Haus and Biergarten on Saturday with a senior staffer who has since tested positive.

"We're outside having a beer, Tammy and I are trying to get around the state as best we can to go out responsibly and try to set an example but also specifically to give business to places around the state," Murphy said.

The majority of cases stem from private indoor gatherings.

MORE: Gov. Murphy Remains In Self-Quarantine After Testing Negative For COVID-19

The line to get a COVID test was down the block in Hoboken, New Jersey, on Thursday.

"Just hanging out in apartments, under 10 people, nothing crazy within the guidelines, then next thing you know, somebody said they got it," one resident told CBS2's Ali Bauman.

Murphy urged people to stay outdoors and not to let their guard down. He is also advising against interstate travel.

"If you have to cross state lines, whether you're going to work, you're going to the grocery store, for healthcare, for worship, that's one thing. But, we urge everyone to otherwise stay in New Jersey so we can focus on getting our numbers back down," Murphy said.


There are 852 patients in New Jersey hospitalized for COVID.

Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli said the state had not had more than 800 for three months.

One way to break the chain of transmission is to answer calls from contact tracers so a full investigation can be done, according to Persichilli.

Meanwhile in New York, Public School 24 in the Bronx is now temporarily closed after having two positive cases.

As always, officials said to maintain a social distance, wear masks, wash hands regularly, and stay within your "bubble."

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