Dear Parents/Guardians, Students, and Staff:
The Board of Education, in collaboration with input from the school physician, administration, school nurses, teachers, and staff members, decided at its February 21st meeting to move the district to a “mask optional” status for all students, staff, and visitors starting March 7th, 2022. The administration and Board of Education view this step as a welcome sign that we are moving to a more normal, pre-pandemic way of life.
Our decision was based on several factors. Governor Phil Murphy’s executive order for a universal mask mandate, which required masks to be worn inside school buildings, will expire on March 7th. The Board discussed the executive order, as well as our school physicians’ recommendation to end the mask mandate, teacher survey, and our school nurses’ concerns. We have also continued to track the district’s COVID-19 case numbers, and have seen a dramatic decrease in recent weeks, following state trends.
While this is a welcome step, the Board of Education is aware that we may need to return to a stricter mask policy if necessary to keep all students and staff safe if a future COVID-19 outbreak arises.
For healthy individuals who have not tested positive for COVID-19; this means:
- Masks for staff, students, and visitors to our schools will be the option of the individual and/or guardian of the child starting on March 7th. Please note: The district will not be keeping track of students whose parents want their child to wear a mask. This must be a conversation within the family with an emphasis on self-monitoring.
- If staff, students, and visitors are exhibiting COVID-like symptoms, please wear a mask to stop the spread in our schools. As per the CDC and New Jersey Department of Health isolation guidance, anyone who tests positive for COVID-19 should wear a mask for 5 additional days upon returning to school following their 5-day isolation period.
- The district will not be enforcing mandatory quarantining for staff or students exposed to COVID-19. We, however, ask that anyone exposed to COVID-19 wear a mask for 5 days.
- The district will no longer do contact tracing for potential exposure to COVID-19.
- The district reserves the ability to make changes for masking, contact tracing, and quarantining at any point in time if the data, medical determinations, or other information related to an outbreak of COVID-19 occurs in our community.
Please remember to talk to your children about the fact that we have students, family members, and staff in our district who have immunocompromised conditions. We need to support and respect each family’s decision regarding mask-wearing and want all students and staff to feel safe and comfortable continuing to wear a mask if they choose to do so. As a district, we will not tolerate teasing, harassment, or bullying of students who opt to wear a mask.
The state health department is developing additional guidance for school districts, and we will keep you informed on the most updated guidelines for quarantine and testing in schools when that information becomes available.
As always, we strive to make the best decisions for everyone’s well-being and safety. If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to reach out to us at any time. Thank you for your understanding, support and patience during this period of time.
Daniel Gallagher, Ed.D.