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Lawrence public schools experience low COVID rates without mask wearing

Since the mandatory mask-wearing order in schools was lifted by Gov. Phil Murphy as of March 7, only eight students in the Lawrence Township Public Schools have tested positive for COVID-19, according to school district officials.

The school district’s COVID-19 dashboard, which allows viewers to track the number of positive cases of COVID-19 in the district, reported two positive cases during the week of March 7, and five cases during the week of March 14. There was one case during the week of March 21.

Those numbers are in contrast to 49 cases reported between Jan. 31 and March 4, according to the school district’s COVID-19 dashboard. The number of positive cases of the illness began declining in late February, and have continued the overall downward trend in March.

Although mask wearing is no longer required in the school buildings, some students and staff have continue to wear them as the transition between a COVID-19 pandemic and acceptance of it as endemic continues to grow, Superintendent of Schools Ross Kasun said at the school board’s March 16 meeting.

There was a lot of concern about the choice to wear masks in school, Kasun said. There was concern about “whether it would cause a stigma for those who decided to wear a mask or those who decided not to wear a mask, or cause challenges and difficulties in our school community,” Kasun said.

To the credit of students and staff, it has become a non-issue, Kasun said. Many students are wearing masks and many students are not wearing masks. Many staff are wearing masks and many staff are not wearing them, he said.

“Everyone seems to be respectful of personal choices and simply accepting it’s what somebody’s wearing today and maybe not tomorrow,” Kasun said.

The other worry was that COVID cases would rise and spread in the schools, once students and staff removed their masks, but since March 7, none of the reported cases appear to have been transmitted in school, he said.

Meanwhile, the school district will continue to update its COVID-19 dashboard daily, the superintendent of schools said.


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