Cherry Hill School District students return to class as new COVID-19 restrictions begin in NJ

Hybrid learning in Cherry Hill schools will divide children into two cohorts that will alternate days of in-person class.

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Tuesday, November 17, 2020
Cherry Hill students return to class as new NJ restrictions begin
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The first day of hybrid classes in the Cherry Hill School District is also the first day of new coronavirus restrictions imposed by Governor Murphy.

Cherry Hill, New Jersey (WPVI) -- School buses and cars lined the circular drive leading up to Carusi Middle School in Cherry Hill, New Jersey Tuesday morning.

One of those cars belonged to Rick Short. He was dropping off his three children at school for the first time in eight months.

"I have three students starting finally today after March," said Short. "I am excited but I'm also concerned."

He's concerned because students in the Cherry Hill School District are returning to classes for hybrid learning at an ironic time. The first day of hybrid classes is also the first day of new coronavirus restrictions imposed by Governor Phil Murphy.

As of 6 a.m. Tuesday indoor events in New Jersey are capped at ten people. The new restrictions did not specify schools as indoor events.

"I think that the school system will be able to handle the health and safety of it," said Mary Burnham of Cherry Hill.

The New Jersey Health Department gave Cherry Hill School District the green light to proceed with its planned hybrid learning schedule.

Last week, though, a return to hybrid learning was in question, as three dozen children in the district had tested positive for COVID-19. A virtual meeting on the matter drew more than 1,400 participants.

Hybrid learning in Cherry Hill schools will divide children into two cohorts that will alternate days of in-person class. The purpose is to decrease the number of students inside school buildings. Students and teachers are required to wear masks at all times.

New Jersey has 281,493 confirmed cases of COVID-19 as of Monday. Five percent of of those cases have been diagnosed in just in the past four days.

RELATED: New restrictions on indoor gathering now in effect in New Jersey

Trying to get ahead of the holidays, Governor Phil Murphy announced the new restrictions along with advice or anyone planning a celebration.

"We are urging everybody to keep their Thanksgiving plans small," said Murphy. "We know that indoor gatherings in homes are particularly dangerous places for COVID-19 to spread."

On Nov. 23, New Jersey will begin new outdoor restrictions related to coronavirus.

Outdoor gatherings will be capped at 150 people. The previous limit was 500 people.

"Religious services or celebrations, political activities, wedding ceremonies, funerals or memorial services, and performances will continue to be limited to 25% of capacity but with a maximum of 150 people," said Murphy.

The new restrictions do not affect indoor dining. Seating for indoor dining will remain at a maximum of eight people per table.

Youth sports are affected by the new restrictions. Indoor sports with more than ten participants (i.e. coaches, players and referees) are still allowed; however, those sporting events with participants exceeding 10 would likely not be allowed to have spectators inside.

Outdoor sports, concerts and other events will also be capped at 150 people.

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The Associated Press contributed to this report.