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Masks will be optional in Jackson School District beginning March 7

JACKSON – As the coronavirus pandemic continues to wane in New Jersey, the Jackson School District will become a mask-optional district beginning March 7.

Jackson administrators announced their decision shortly after Gov. Phil Murphy’s Feb. 7 announcement in which he noted the significant decline of statewide COVID-19 metrics and said masks and facial coverings will no longer be mandated for students, staff members or visitors in schools and childcare centers effective March 7.

“Thankfully, we have reached a point where we feel confident we can take another step toward normalcy for our kids. Given the continued drop in new cases and hospitalizations, projections indicating a continued decline over the coming weeks, and the continued growth of vaccinations for our school-age population, we believe we can responsibly end the universal mask mandate,” Murphy was quoted as saying in a press release.

In a letter to families and staff members, Jackson School District administrators said, “Last week, Gov. Murphy announced that the executive order requiring masks to be worn in school would expire on March 7.

“He cited the significant decline in cases, transmission rates and hospitalizations, and an increase in vaccination rates, as well as predictive indicators of a downward trend for our state.

“We are pleased to share that in our district there has been a steady decrease in the number of positive COVID cases since the week of Jan. 10 and a significant decrease in cases over the past two weeks.

“In light of these conditions and with the expiration of this mandate, beginning March 7, wearing a mask in school will be optional for all students and staff. Until the mandate is lifted, the current school mask requirement will remain unchanged,” Jackson’s administrators said.

In announcing the lifting of the mask mandate, Murphy said school district administrators and the operators of childcare facilities can choose to continue to implement universal masking policies after the mandate is lifted in March.

Schools that do not impose universal masking should revise their COVID policies to use masking among other prevention strategies under certain circumstances, according to the press release.

Schools will not be permitted to prohibit the use of facial coverings by individuals, according to the press release.

Jackson’s administrators asked all community members to be sensitive and respectful to everyone’s individual choice to wear a mask or to not wear a mask.

A mask must still be worn by every person on a school bus due to a federal mandate from the U.S. Department of Transportation. If and when the federal requirement is lifted, the school district will not require a mask to be worn on school buses.

Any student or staff member who has tested positive for COVID must wear a mask in school for days 6-10 following the onset of their symptoms. This is in accordance with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance for individuals who test positive, according to the Jackson School District.

Prior to the mandate being lifted, the New Jersey Department of Health will release guidance to help school districts update their policies to align with the risks and unique needs of their setting and student population to ensure safe learning environments, according to the Governor’s press release.

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