Determined to finish the school year with as many school kids on classrooms as possible, the Murphy administration is considering a "test and stay" program.

The initiative would allow kids deemed a close contact to a COVID-infected person in school to remain in class if a rapid test came back negative.

The CDC recently endorsed "test and stay," and encouraged more states to adopt the policy.

New Jersey State Health Commissioner Judy Persichilli said on Monday that she hopes to have a pilot program in place as early as January. Working with school nurses, Persichilli says, "We have developed a proposal for a pilot. We're looking at that for the restart after the holiday break."

Persichilli did not provide details of how the program would work, but it would likely be modeled after similar programs in California and Georgia.

In Georgia, staff or students that have been COVID exposed can take a rapid-antigen test every morning for seven days. The tests are administered at a drive-through location near the school. Test results are usually available within 30 minutes. If the test is negative, they can proceed to school. Parents who do not want their kids tested, still have the option to quarantine at home.

New Jersey revised school quarantine guidelines last week. A student with a close contact exposure is now permitted to return to school in seven days if they test negative. It is 10 days if they do not get tested. Previous guidelines required a 14-day quarantine with no testing option.

Gov. Phil Murphy said Monday his administration was "inching toward" a "test to stay" policy even before the guidelines were revised.

Thousands of students and staff members have been forced into quarantine as the number of outbreaks in school have risen. Multiple school outbreaks are reported in every county except Burlington.

As of Dec. 15, the state was reporting 294 cumulative outbreaks involving 1,618 students and staff members. However, the number of quarantines is in the thousands, because every person who came in 'close contact' with someone who was infected had to stay home.

Three more districts announced schools that had to be closed and a move back to remote learning this week: Plainfield, South Orange-Maplewood and Hunterdon Central.

Answers to 25 common COVID-19 vaccine questions

Vaccinations for COVID-19 began being administered in the U.S. on Dec. 14, 2020. The quick rollout came a little more than a year after the virus was first identified in November 2019. The impressive speed with which vaccines were developed has also left a lot of people with a lot of questions. The questions range from the practical—how will I get vaccinated?—to the scientific—how do these vaccines even work?

Keep reading to discover answers to 25 common COVID-19 vaccine questions.

Census 2020: The 20 biggest places in New Jersey

A countdown of the 20 most populous municipalities in New Jersey, as measured by the 2020 Census.

NJ teachers and educators caught in sex crime busts

Over the past few years, state lawmakers have taken on the challenge of dealing with accused child predators among the ranks of teachers and educators.

In 2018, the so-called “pass the trash” law went into effect, requiring stricter New Jersey school background checks related to child abuse and sexual misconduct.

The follow individuals were arrested over the past several years. Some have been convicted and sentenced to prison, while others have accepted plea deals for probation.

Others cases are still pending, including some court delays amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

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