RED BANK – When New Jersey’s school mask mandate is lifted on March 7, administrators in the Red Bank Borough Public Schools intend to make the use of a mask optional for all individuals in the district’s schools.
In a Feb. 11 message posted on the school district’s website, Superintendent of Schools Jared Rumage said Red Bank fully anticipates operating as a mask-optional district. Under federal requirements, all individuals on a school bus must still wear a mask.
“Any student or staff member who wishes to continue wearing a face covering in school may do so without any alteration or modification to their instructional schedule.
“The safety of our students and staff will continue to remain our top priority. As we enter this mask-optional journey, we will continue to monitor COVID-19 protocols and communicate directly and swiftly with families as needed.
“We will provide any additional safe return plan changes in a subsequent community update, which you can expect prior to March 7,” Rumage wrote.
The superintendent said if COVID-19 conditions worsen and pending any potential changes to the mask mandate, Red Bank administrators may be required to modify protocols.
On Feb. 7, noting the significant decline of statewide COVID-19 metrics, Gov. Phil Murphy announced that 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 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.
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 press release.