As most New Jersey schools get set to reopen in the next few weeks with at least some in-person instruction, a new color-coded monitoring system is being launched to help school administrators and parents monitor the spread of COVID-19.

State Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli on Wednesday said the tracking system will have a regional focus “to be responsive to the local characteristics of school participation.”

The state is being divided into six regions, similar to how the Health Department carries out influenza surveillance.

Northwest: Morris, Passaic, Sussex and Warren counties
Northeast: Bergen, Essex and Hudson counties
Central-West: Hunterdon, Mercer and Somerset counties
Central-East: Middlesex, Monmouth, Ocean and Union counties
Southwest: Camden, Gloucester, Burlington and Salem counties
Southeast: Atlantic, Cape May and Cumberland counties

Depending on the specific community risk and transmission activity, the regions will be coded green, yellow, orange or red depending on number of cases, positivity rate of tests and hospitalizations in the past week.

“This regionalized system will provide a view of transmission more locally and help inform decisions on the ground,” Persichilli said.

Persichilli noted when a school is in the green, yellow or orange, students and staff will be required to stay home when they are ill or if they’ve come in close contact with someone who has recently tested positive for COVID-19.

She said having this kind of a system along with Health Department guidance “provides tools for parents to screen students before sending them to school, screens staff for symptoms upon arrival and includes plans for students and staff to report symptoms during the day.”

She said guidelines will also help local health department officials identify rapid testing resources when staff or students develop symptoms, offer sanitizing protocols for frequently touched surfaces and clarify social distance and masking requirements.

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