“Safety Color Codes” Will Be Used to Determine Possible COVID-19 School Closures in Fall

TRENTON, NJ – If your school is one of the ones reopening this fall, it will be monitored by the state with a color-coded safety and virus alert system.

According to the New Jersey Department of Health, the reopening of schools requires a broad community commitment to reduce the risk of exposure to the virus that causes COVID-19. Such commitment involves social distancing, wearing face coverings, cleaning and disinfection and meticulous hygiene practices such as frequent handwashing.

NJ DOH says these rules could be in place until there is a COVID-19 vaccine.

“Some amount of community mitigation will also be necessary until a vaccine or therapeutic drug becomes widely available,” the NJ DOH ssaid. “As schools resume operations, they should consider how best to structure educational services to minimize risk to staff and students.”

The color-coded system will be used to monitor regions during the return to school and evaluate risks to students and teachers.

Here are the regions and which counties will be in each region”


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

Here are the color-coded safety benchmarks:

  • Green – Low Risk Evaluate whether there are students or staff who are at increased risk of severe illness and seek alternatives to ensure continuity of work or educational services. In response to COVID-19 positive staff or student, follow COVID-19 exclusion criteria; work with local health department to identify and exclude close contacts following CDC guidance; refer to guidance on cleaning and disinfection. In response to ill students and staff, follow NJDOH School Exclusion List * If ill person had potential exposure in past 14 days, follow COVID-19 exclusion criteria; wait at least 24 hours and clean/disinfect areas where ill person spent time. Permit limited activities involving interaction with multiple cohorts, ensuring adherence to precautions.
  • Yellow – Moderate Risk Implement remote learning for students and staff at high risk of severe illness; consider hybrid learning approaches, and/or fully remote learning. In response to COVID-19 positive staff or student, follow COVID-19 exclusion criteria; work with local health department to identify and exclude close contacts following CDC guidance; refer to guidance on cleaning and disinfection. In response to ill students and staff, follow COVID-19 exclusion criteria; wait at least 24 hours and clean/disinfect areas where ill person spent time. Minimize activities that involve interaction with multiple cohorts
  • Dark Yellow – High Risk Implement fully remote learning unless school can ensure complete adherence to all prevention & control measures. If schools remain open for in-person learning: In response to staff or student who is COVID-19 positive or who has COVID-19 symptoms (not yet tested), follow COVID-19 exclusion criteria; work with local health department to identify and exclude close contacts according to CDC guidance; refer to guidance on cleaning and disinfection. * Decisions on when ill person’s close contacts can return to school are dependent on the ill person’s medical evaluation and COVID-19 test results. Restrict activities that involve interaction with multiple cohorts.
  • Red – Very High Risk Implement fully remote learning.

Photo by Harshal Desai on Unsplash

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