Covid NJ: School Masking Mandate Lifted; Union City School District Selected In National Test-to-Stay Initiative

Sources: NBC News; Hudson Reporter

“Effective March 7, the statewide mask mandate in schools will be lifted,” Gov. Phil Murphy wroteeet. “Balancing public health with getting back to some semblance of normalcy is not easy. But we can responsibly take this step due to declining COVID numbers and growth in vaccinations.”

“While we didn’t want to keep any mandates in force for a moment more, the last thing we wanted to do was to pull back too early,” Murphy said at an afternoon news conference. But he said he was “confident” that the mask mandates could be lifted within four weeks, noting that case numbers were falling drastically, and warmer weather means the chance for greater ventilation in classrooms.

Pamela Addison, a reading teacher and mother of two who lives in Waldwick, lost her husband to Covid in April 2020. She says her children, ages 2 and 3, have become accustomed to wearing masks at day care, and “They don’t even notice it’s on half the time.”

“I think it’s just the adults are sick of the masks, not the kids. To hear people say these masks are ruining their lives? It’s like, ‘No, losing someone to Covid ruins your life.’”

Covid-19 cases in New Jersey have plummeted to a tenth of what they were at this time last month (as in post-year-end-holiday period) when the state was recording more than 30,000 cases day on average, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Ten million COVID-19 tests are being distributed nationwide as part of a nation plan to keep students in classrooms for in-person learning, known as “Test-to-Stay.”

Under the new initiative, unvaccinated students who have a close contact with COVID-19 will now be tested by a school nurse up to three times. Provided that they test negative and are asymptomatic, the student will be able to remain in school.

“We are using every tool available to us to protect our students, school district employees, and the entire community,” said Stack. “I want to thank President Biden for creating this important initiative and Governor Murphy for selecting Union City as one of the first districts to begin implementing it.”

Prior to reopening on Jan. 18 after temporarily shifting to virtual instruction for the first two weeks of the month due to COVID-19, the Union City School District distributed approximately 15,000 at-home rapid-test kits to its students. According to the district, approximately 90 percent of students used them, allowing schools to resume in-person learning more safely.

According to Abbato, the incoming supply will allow the district to implement the Test-to-Stay initiative. In the past, anyone who had close contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19 had to quarantine for fourteen days.

“Our district is pleased to be among the first in the nation to pilot this new program,” said Abbato. “It adds another layer of protection for our students and staff, while allowing students to continue with the in-person learning that is so vital to their development.”

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