Murphy announces schools to close through May 15

Alex Weinberg, Iris Reviews Editor

As coronavirus continues to affect the country, more states have decided to close their schools for the remainder of the academic year. As of April 21, 37 states have ordered school closings for the rest of the year, affecting nearly 40.7 million public school students according to Education Week, an independent news organization that covers K–12 education. 

New Jersey, on the other hand, has not ruled out the possibility of returning to school. While schools will now definitely remain closed until at least May 15, returning for the rest of the school year remains uncertain. 

In a press conference on April 21, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy said, “We cannot rush to reopen anything and risk undoing all the extraordinary work that you have done so far [through our strong position on social distancing]. That’s why our schools are still closed and will be until we are certain that we can keep everyone as safe as possible. We are not going to open our schools back up until we are convinced by the science and medical professionals that doing so would be safe for students, for staff, and by the way, for their families.”

Students in Westfield seem to agree with Governor Murphy’s approach. “I would say as much as I want to go back to see people and enjoy my second semester of senior year, there are still too many cases right now for it to be safe,” said senior Jason Paden. “Also, if we go back now and that causes a second wave, that would just make things worse.” 

Other students felt similarly. Senior Alexis Hammer said, “Seeing schools in Pennsylvania and other states close upsets me and doesn’t give me much hope, but until anything is official I’m trying to stay as positive as possible and not make any assumptions about whether or not we return. The priority is just to stay safe, so my guess is that we won’t go back in order to maximize our safety, but I really don’t know.”

Governor Murphy added in his April 21 press conference that, “My number-one job is the health and safety of our state, every single one of us. And as I said yesterday, public health leads everything. Public health creates economic health. Public health creates educational health. On those principles, I cannot and will not equivocate.”