Payton Eldridge never thought she'd be sad to be away from school.

"I love having breaks and everything, but this was just a bit too long of a vacation," the 16-year-old said.

Eldridge, a junior at Wall High School, learned Monday that "vacation" will last at least through the summer. Gov. Phil Murphy announced that in-person learning at schools will not be permitted through the end of this academic year, in hopes of continuing to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus.

"I'm honestly a bit worried about senior year," she said. "I feel bad for all the seniors that unfortunately got theirs cut short this year."

Virtual learning, particularly as it relates to advanced-placement classes, can be difficult, she said. Getting an answer to a question she may have when learning the material isn't as instant as it would be when classrooms were up and running in New Jersey.

"All kids benefit from the social aspect of physically being in school," Lynette Eldridge, Payton's mother, added. "Within a week, both of my children were missing school."

All school buildings in the state have been closed to children since mid-March. Teachers deliver material to students and families through email or password-protected online portals, and classes can be held live online.

Nicole Bisking, a mother of two in Freehold, was relieved to hear the state's plans for the rest of the 2019-2020 school year. Murphy made the announcement on social media several minutes before holding his daily media briefing on COVID-19.

"I'm just afraid for my children's health," Bisking said. "I would've never sent them back this academic year."

But she's still looking for ways to get her children out of the house in a safe way.

"Kids have so much energy and it's all bottled up. So for my kids that were always getting along great, now they're looking to kill each other," Bisking said.

Her 8-year-old daughter Julianna wasn't bothered or pleased by the announcement that school would only be conducted virtually through at least June.

"I guess it's not the worst because we're always going to see our friends next year," the second-grader said.

Christina Hughes has been predicting for a while that her kindergarten- and preschool-aged daughters wouldn't be finishing the year in a classroom. The Robbinsville resident was looking forward to certain milestones, such as kindergarten graduation, but says Murphy's decision was "the right call."

Now that school and work are at-home operations, and there's no dance or gymnastics on the calendar for a while, Hughes plans to cherish the daily moments she has with her family that would not have been possible without a public health crisis.

"I'm curious to see what happens in September," Hughes said. "I'm optimistic, but also realistic."

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