Gov. Phil Murphy announced all public school districts in New Jersey are expected to provide full-time, in-person instruction for the 2021-2022 school year.
He said unless there is any sort of dramatic change before the beginning of the school year, students will not be required to wear masks in their school buildings -- unless a school district requires masking as part of its own protocols.
Murphy said they anticipate updated guidance from the CDC regarding wearing masks and New Jersey's Department of Education and Department of Health will update their recommendations accordingly.
"The recommendations we are releasing today will provide school districts with a roadmap to bring students and staff back to safe, enriching school environments," Murphy said. "This guidance will help districts and educators develop plans to meet their student's educational, social, emotional and mental health needs. Our students and educators have displayed amazing resiliency during the pandemic, and I am pleased that the upcoming school year will provide a sense of normalcy that students haven't had since March 2020."
The strategies are recommendations, not mandatory standards. The absence of one or more of these strategies should not prevent school facilities for opening for full-day, in-person operation. Schools are encouraged to implement as many layers as feasible while providing full-time in-person instruction:
-Maintaining physical distance between students to the extent practicable. This recommendation must not prevent a school from offering fulltime in-person learning; districts should implement physical distancing only to the extent they are equipped to do so while still providing regular in-person school operations.
-Interventions to aid with social distancing include facing desks in the same direction and avoiding group seating arrangements.
-Putting procedures in place to identify and respond to a student or staff member who becomes ill with COVID-19 symptoms.
-Maintaining close communication with local health departments to share information and resources on COVID-19 transmission, prevention, and control measures and to establish procedures for notification and response to illness. Schools should also maintain transparent and ongoing communication, as appropriate, with their staff, students, and caregivers regarding school operations and health and safety information.
"While this guidance will help schools plan for Fall, the best way to keep schools open and safe is to get vaccinated," said Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli. "Now is the time for parents of children between the ages of 12 and 17 to schedule a COVID-19 vaccine appointment to allow enough time for that second shot before school starts."
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