New Jersey’s K-12 school district will have until next week to decide whether to keep the mandate on the mask for students in school buses and other vehicles, or make it optional.
Last month, Gov. Phil Murphy announced that the state’s mandate for school masks would be lifted on March 7. At the time, he said the decision to make the masks optional or keep the mandate after March 7 would be left to local school officials. The same now applies to the school bus mask mandate.
This comes after changes made by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that no longer require masks in “buses or vans operated by public or private school systems, including early care and education / childcare programs.”
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CDC changed the recommendations on the requirement of masks in school buses Feb. 25, two weeks after Murphy revoked his school mask. Before the CDC changed its recommendations, masks remained a requirement on buses to comply with federal government orders.
“We are pleased that the federal government has taken steps to bring the bus protocol into line with the requirements of the mask for New Jersey schools,” said Alena Alfaro-Post, a spokeswoman for the governor. “In New Jersey, the mask requirements for schools will be lifted. March 7, as previously reported. School districts must continue to require masks on buses until March 7, when the state’s powers at the school expire,” she said in a statement.
State issued instructions for schools on how to implement the optional mask policy last week. In addition to no longer requiring masks on school buses on February 25, the CDC has also changed its recommendation that schools and children’s centers provide universal camouflage in areas where the spread of the virus in the community is low or medium.
COVID-19 activity levels (CALIs) show that the virus has spread in New Jersey counties yellow and green and in the low and middle range for the last calculated period, which ended on 19 February.
Clearly moving away from its position during the two years of the pandemic, the CDC said last week that it “no longer recommends wearing a universal mask indoors in K-12 schools and in preschools in areas with low or medium community COVID-19 School Systems at their discretion may require people to wear masks in buses or minibuses.
Most North Jersey school districts have announced they will make wearing masks in schools optional. The subsequent constituencies will also retain the mandate until further notice or for an extended period of time: Patterson, Newark, Hillside, East Orange and Plainfield.
Republican Sen. Joe Pennakia (D-26), representing parts of Essex, Maurice and Pasayk counties, called for the immediate abolition of the mandate for masks in the state in line with CDC recommendations.
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“The CDC no longer recommends wearing masks anywhere in New Jersey under new guidelines that take into account local community data,” Pennakia said. and lift the mandate on masks today for New Jersey schools and everywhere. ”
The Murphy administration noted that CDC recommendations were a benchmark throughout the pandemic and in issuing instructions to schools through the State Department of Health. Murphy did not immediately revoke the mask mandate during his announcement last month because he said he wanted to give schools and children’s centers time to consult with local health departments and prepare their own individual mask policy.
Mary Ann Corut covers education for NorthJersey.com. To get unlimited access to the latest news about New Jersey schools and how it affects your children, sign up or activate your digital account today.