The power to unmask local students can quickly fall into the hands of public school and day care parents. In less than a month, students and teachers no longer need to wear masks at school and can wear face covers as needed.
Despite this long-sought flexibility, some local school districts are still hesitant to implement mask option policies, awaiting further guidance from the State Department of Health.
Governor Phil Murphy announced on Monday, February 7, that the mask mission for schools throughout the state will be lifted from March 7.
Mask obligations will be removed on March 7, but local school officials and day care operators will have the authority to maintain masks for students, teachers and staff as needed. Schools cannot prohibit the use of masks.
Both Warren and Longhill grade K-8 boards of education met on the same day as Murphy’s February 7 announcement, but came to different conclusions about dismissing Mask’s mission.
The K-8 Watchung Board of Education later announced a community briefing on the governor’s decision.
The Longhill Commission has decided that the district will not continue its Mask mission beyond March 7. However, the Warren Commission hesitated to make a decision before receiving further state guidance.
“The Board has been waiting for the ability to use local Covid risk data to guide decisions, such as passing a resolution to that effect last summer,” said Matthew Mingle, director of Warren School. .. “The Governor’s announcement of a pending shift from the state-wide Maskman Date, which will take effect on March 7, is welcome news.”
If there is a major change in state obligations, the local school district will usually receive additional implementation details later.
“Often, if there is a change from the governor’s office, we’ll get a document with headings and nuances and details in a few days,” says Mingle. “It is important not to draw immediate conclusions about all the details that go into the mask mission to be unlocked.”
George Alexis, the director of Watchung School, echoed Mingle. He said the revised guidance will play an important role in the district’s approach to board decisions and masking after the state’s mission has expired.
“We will continue to monitor our local Covid data, follow evolving state health guidance, and consult with local health authorities to determine the most appropriate path for the future,” Alexis wrote. increase.
Longhill School coach Ann Mucci issued the same warning, stating that the Ministry of Health will interpret the next steps, including whether the district will face contract tracking requirements after Musk’s term expires.
Melissa Rubolo, a member of the Longhill Board of Directors, said health authorities would simply recommend the best way to protect students and school staff under the mask option policy.
“They aren’t going to disagree with what the governor said,” she said.
The Warren district will release community updates every Thursday until March 7.
Mingle said discussions would continue with a committee for the school district to return to school and a committee for the board to return to school on a temporary basis prior to the next full board meeting on February 28.
Longhill’s board tended to respond more quickly to Murphy’s announcement than Warren or Watching. Board members held a roundtable meeting from March 7th to decide whether the Township School will be a mask option.
In a school teacher survey, 75.4% of staff said they could teach comfortably without a mask anytime after March 1st. 15.5% of respondents agreed to maintain the mask obligation if the district’s Covid level was high or very high. range. Nine percent of the respondents wanted to maintain their mask mission until the end of the school year.
“We’ve all tried to make the best decisions with real-time data and information. As we get to the details, we need the flexibility to update our decisions,” said Kim Case of Longhill Board. The president says. “We know that we are currently making decisions that take into account the circumstances and conditions that surround us, but these circumstances and conditions are subject to change and are necessary in the future. to hold.”
Board member Tom Grosskov emphasized that individuals should be warned if they criticize students or staff who choose to wear face covers.
All Longhill board members agreed with Mask Option’s student days starting March 7. However, board member Alexander Jamos provided a different perspective.
Mucci reported that student immunization rates at three schools in Longhill were 40 percent at Gillette School, 60 percent at Millington and 67.2 percent at Central.
D’Jamoos pointed out that Gillette has a significant number of students who are not yet vaccinated, and that they have experienced a surge in Covid cases during the recent Omicron wave.
“Optimists will see it and say,’Well, that means there are more of them now temporarily spared from being infected with Covid,'” D’Jamoos said. “But in reality, there is also a picture that the reason they experienced the surge more than in other schools is because of the unvaccinated population.”
Because of that discrepancy, D’Jamoos said, “For Millington and Central, we need to respect the removal of mandates, but for Gillette, we need to take a slightly milder approach.”
He urged to uphold the mask requirement only at Gillette School to “see how removing the mask for two-thirds of the students is done”. The decision to remove the mask from the young student will then be made later. No director has supported the move of D’Jamoos’.
Board member Daniel Daly replied that the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that children under the age of 6 should not be masked.
Watchung Hills director Elizabeth Jewtett reported that mask option considerations will be discussed at a meeting on Tuesday, February 15. She may send updates to the school community later this week.