Weeks after New Jersey schools closed due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, a decision from Gov. Phil Murphy (D) today brought hope to student-athletes in the Garden State for a potential spring sports season in 2020.

Murphy announced Thursday afternoon at his daily press conference that all schools in New Jersey would stay closed until at least Friday, May 15.

“We cannot be guided by emotion,” Murphy said. “We need to be guided by the facts on the ground — science and public health — take us. That means it will not be safe to reopen our schools, or start sports back up, for at least another four weeks.”

That decision leaves the door open for student-athletes in New Jersey to play out a shortened season.

Six days ago, the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association laid out a contingency plan for a spring sports season with the potential for “modified state championships” played all the way up until June 30.

“The return-to-school date and related public health guidelines will continue to determine the viability of a spring sports season,” the NJSIAA said after Murphy’s announcement. “As noted, NJSIAA is committed to doing whatever is possible to provide New Jersey’s student-athletes with some type of spring season. We have models in place that allow for competition starting as late as May 25, but given the late start date, tournament play may not be viable.  Our commitment to conclude the spring season, no later than June 30 stands.  As the governor noted, we remain hopeful.”

Murphy initially ordered schools be closed on March 18 in an effort to curb the spread of COVID-19, the virus caused from this strain of coronavirus. As of April 16, New Jersey has confirmed 75,317 positive cases and 3,518 deaths from COVID-19. There are over 2 million confirmed cases worldwide.

The winter sports season was affected by the coronavirus pandemic, as well. There was no group championship tournament or a Tournament of Champions in either boys or girls basketball this past season.

“It’s hard, but if we all keep pulling and working together, I hope that it will put me in a position in a months time, to make a different announcement,” Murphy said. “There is no doubt we are saving lives and we must maintain the course.”

Stay tuned with Jersey Sports Zone for all the latest updates on how the coronavirus pandemic is affecting high school athletics in New Jersey, as well as features and highlight reels on student-athletes.