Despite Gov. Phil Murphy's determination to keep kids in the classroom when they return from winter break, more districts are making plans to return to remote learning after winter break.

Some of New Jersey's largest school districts have already told parents their kids will not be returning to the classrooms.

Paterson and Irvington join the South Orange-Maplewood district in returning to on-line instruction as new COVID caseloads increase in the school population and the community at large.

School officials in Newark and Trenton say they are monitoring COVID levels, and may make the decision to close classrooms in the New Year.

Still others are pro-actively telling parents they have no plans for remote instruction. Toms River, Freehold and Jackson school officials sent letters to parents this week saying current protocols were working to keep kids safe, and to plan on a return to the classrooms after the holidays.

Colleges and universities are also grappling with what to do when classes resume. Many have already moved the remainder of this semester to remote instruction, but plans for the Spring semester are largely unsettled.

Rutgers says they do plan to begin the new semester in-person, but cautioned that could change based on the "science" and the number of new COVID cases.

Uncertainty is serving to frustrate parents, many of whom are already struggling with child care issues. It's a blow to businesses as well, as they struggle to find enough workers and were just starting to see an increase in hiring.

This latest COVID wave in New Jersey is being fueled by the the new omicron variant. The CDC says omicron now accounts for 90% of all new cases in New Jersey and the Northeast.

On Wednesday, New Jersey health officials announced the highest number of new positive COVID tests since the start of the pandemic, approaching 10,000. For seven days in a row the number of new cases has topped 6,000 and hospitalizations are now 2,100.

It's unlikely Gov. Murphy will announce any new mandates until at least the end of the month. He and his family left Wednesday for an eight day vacation in Costa Rica.

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