September 7, 2022
As the school year is beginning around the State of New Jersey, most districts in the state have dropped their mask requirements for students and teachers, and have relaxed their COVID-19 guidelines, including those regarding testing.
Nearly all school districts have eliminated mask mandates, with the standout being the largest school district, the Newark Public School District, maintaining its mask mandate for now.
Aside from simply masking, many school districts are adopting more relaxed COVID-19 guidelines, specifically regarding testing. On Friday, the New Jersey Department of Education released its school-opening COVID guidelines. As stated in this memo from the Department of Education, "To support and prioritize uninterrupted, full-time, in-person learning, schools may transition away from a case investigation response model to a routine disease control model. This model focuses more on responding to clusters of cases, outbreaks, and evidence of ongoing transmission, and less on individual case investigation and contact tracing. In lieu of individual contact tracing, schools may consider providing cohort notifications (classroom, cohort, team) when exposures occur. Individuals and families can then take additional precautions based on individual needs."
Additionally, the Department of Education stated that quarantine is no longer recommended for people who have been exposed to COVID-19, regardless of vaccination status. Because of this new recommendation, the New Jersey Department of Health is discontinuing its recommendation for a Test to Stay Program.
It is recommended that asymptomatic students and staff who are exposed to COVID-19 continue to test themselves and wear masks for 10 days.
Students and teachers who do test positive, regardless of vaccination status, should stay at home for at least five full days after symptom onset or after a positive test. Those who have no symptoms and those whose symptoms resolve after five days and who are fever-free for 24 hours can return to school and should wear masks for an additional five days.