As the number of COVID outbreaks increase in our schools, a growing number have had to switch back to remote learning as more students and staff are forced to quarantine.

One New Jersey school district is pushing back on strict quarantine rules in defiance of state rules.

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With every county listed as having a high rate of community transmission, state school health guidelines require an unvaccinated student who has close contact with an infected person to quarantine for 14 days. Even if the student tests negative for COVID, they cannot return to school until the two-week quarantine period ends.

Gov. Phil Murphy's hometown of Middletown has rejected that policy and made the quarantine voluntary.

Middletown School Board Vice President Frank Capone told NJ.com it makes no sense to try and protect against the "possible" spread of a virus "that continues to spread despite every mitigation effort."

Middletown was among a handful of school districts that also attempted to defy Murphy's in-school mask mandate last August, but ultimately complied after a threat of a lawsuit from Trenton.

The district also attempted to ban any talk of vaccines or vaccine status in school after a report the NJEA was training teachers on how to influence students about the vaccine, something the teachers union denied.

Parents in Middletown recently left hundreds of shoes at the high school to protest vaccine and mask mandates.

It is unclear what action the state may take against Middletown for defying the quarantine rules.

After a few outbreaks were reported in the first few weeks of the school year, the numbers have been climbing.

New Jersey's COVID dashboard lists 29 cumulative outbreaks in schools as of Dec. 15, with 47 outbreaks being reported in the last week.

Monmouth County has the second-highest number of school outbreaks in the state with 26.

The CDC data tracker lists an 8.49% increase in new COVID cases in the county over the last week and a 43% increase in the number of residents hospitalized for COVID infection.

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