The townships of North Brunswick and South Brunswick have instituted indoor mask mandates amidst the rising cases of COVID-19 due to the Omicron variant.
A mask is required to be worn in all areas of public indoor accommodations including, but not limited to, government facilities, restaurants, bars, gymnasiums, dance studios, recreation facilities, retail stores, cafes, supermarkets, places of worship; commercial establishments, salons, barbershops, banks, health care facilities, and hotels.
Residents, visitors and patrons must wear a face mask at all times except when actively eating or drinking; or when socially distanced at least 6 feet apart from all others for an extended period of time, such as in an office setting when seated at a desk, when performing for an audience, or when conducting worship services.
Children under the age of 3 are exempt from the requirements.
The mandate will be in effect until at least Jan. 31.
The North Brunswick and South Brunswick school districts have returned temporarily to remote instruction through at least Jan. 18. Schools are closed on Jan. 17 in observance of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
Scott Feder, the superintendent of schools of the South Brunswick School District, addressed the closure of the district’s buildings during the Jan. 6 Board of Education reorganization meeting.
He said that throughout the past two years of the pandemic, Chief Raymond Hayducka and Deputy Chief Jim Ryan of the South Brunswick Police Department/South Brunswick Office of Emergency Management did not once ask for remote learning – until these past few weeks.
Feder said that as of Jan. 5 there were 500 cases of COVID reported, not including home tests. He said that as of Jan. 6, there were 81 staff members positive with COVID; he said with people who are exposed or awaiting test results, the district could have 200 employees out.
Plus, anyone with a symptom is asked to stay home.
And, Feder said because of COVID testing limitations, a person could drive an hour to a testing site, wait four to five hours for a test to be administered, and then not receive the results for two to three days. However, the person has to quarantine until the test results are received.
Feder said his daughter is currently quarantining with COVID and that his wife, who is a school counselor, has been asked to cover a class in her school because “anyone with a pulse” is asked to help out.
“I trust our Department of Health, I trust Jim Ryan, I trust Ray Hayducka,” Feder said. “I know this is hard on everybody. I know it’s hard on our staff.
“Our teachers are great, they are doing amazing things … but there are some students who can’t learn this way,” he said of at-home education.
Jim Lavan spoke during the public portion of the meeting. A teacher, and a parent of a student who has special needs, Lavan said since sports are currently still taking place in South Brunswick, there should be a way for students who have special needs to attend school.
“I ask humbly for you to prioritize special ed students,” he said.
He said if not everyone can return to school on Jan. 18, then at least some students should be able to return, safely.
Feder said the plan as of Jan. 6 was to have all students back in the buildings on Jan. 18, but he said he would keep parents updated.
He asked that parents alert their respective school nurse of any symptoms, even during virtual learning times, so schools can plan accordingly.
“We need to keep a record so as we approach the end of (the week ending Jan. 14) we can tell our kids where they need to be,” Feder said.