NJ’s largest school district may be on the verge of ending mask mandate
New Jersey’s largest school district will decide by the end of the week whether to continue requiring mask-wearing in buildings to combat the spread of COVID-19.
Newark is among the few districts in which masks remain mandatory, seven weeks after the statewide mask mandate ended on March 7.
A Newark District spokeswoman, Nancy Deering, told NJ Advance Media on Monday that a decision would be made by the end of this week.
New Jersey’s coronavirus cases have trended upwards, after a sharp drop leading to the end of the statewide school mask mandate that had been in place since buildings reopened for education in person in September 2020.
On Monday, state health officials reported three additional COVID-19 deaths in New Jersey and 1,275 confirmed positive tests. New Jersey’s seven-day average for confirmed cases was 1,805 on Monday, up 7% from a week ago and 131% from a month ago.
Masks remain mandatory in at least two other major school districts in New Jersey.
East Orange is lifting its mask mandate effective Monday, May 9.
In a letter On April 14, East Orange Schools Superintendent AbdulSaleem Hasan referenced the school district’s survey of more than 2,000 people, shortly after Governor Phil Murphy announced the end of the term at the statewide, which led to the decision to extend the local requirement until May 9.
A follow-up survey in March, two weeks after the declaration’s term ended, offered support for lifting the masks when spring break returned, which was Monday.
East Orange, however, remains on its original schedule.
“As of May 9, students, staff and visitors will no longer be required to wear face coverings or masks in school buildings or on school buses,” Hasan wrote.
“However, any student, staff member or visitor who would like to continue wearing a mask is invited and encouraged to do so. We understand that there are many reasons why one may choose to continue wearing a mask at school. Thus, please note that any form of intimidation or harassment of any person based on their decision will not be tolerated,” Hasan added.
The Paterson School District has not set a date for lifting its mask mandate, spokesman Paul Brubaker said.
In February, Paterson Superintendent Eileen Shafer asked the school board to suspend until two weeks after spring break, which ended Monday, to reconsider lifting the local requirement.
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Rob Jennings can be reached at [email protected].