NEW JERSEY (PIX11) – Although New Jersey continues to report thousands of positive COVID-19 cases and high numbers of hospitalizations, Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli defended the state’s decision not to have a statewide remote option for schools.

“We need as much as possible to keep kids in schools,” Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli told PIX on Politics host Dan Mannarino on Sunday. 

Despite several school districts going remote due to the uptick in positivity, Persichilli went on to say that the state has over 3,000 school buildings, but only a small number of them are closed due to outbreaks.

“I appreciate that in high transmission, people are concerned about sending kids to school, but we’re finding that our outbreaks in school are not as significant as you can imagine,” she said.

She did, however, acknowledge about 520,000 children are unvaccinated because they are under the age of five, and they are mixing with kids in schools who may be infected.

The health commissioner said she feels very strongly that masking in schools will keep kids safe.

“Masks are effective,” she said.

The Garden State is currently seeing about 20,000 positive cases daily. 

Persichilli said she is hoping the state is on the “other side of the mountain” and they will see a continuous decline, but will be “staying very vigilant.”

When asked why the state has not gone further on mandating boosters or taking more measures, Persichilli said the state believes in moving those decisions closer to the people since they will be the ones living with it.