Earlier this month, public schools in Passaic re-implemented a mask requirement for students in all school buildings and on school buses.

Then school officials in Camden announced a mask mandate will be in effect when students and staff return to school following the winter break

Now district officials in Paterson have informed parents and staff members that universal masking will be required when schools and offices reopen on Tuesday, Jan. 3.

Superintendent Eileen Shafer notified parents and staff members of the decision in a Dec. 22 letter in which she cited the rising numbers of COVID, RSV and influenza cases in Passaic County.

Monitoring the data

She said the decision was made after consulting with the city chief health officer and officials will continue to monitor the data and reevaluate the decision when it’s appropriate to do so.

Other school districts, including Clinton Township in Hunterdon County, have been urging parents to make sure their kids get a COVID test before they return to school. Clinton school officials are are encouraging students to wear a mask, but they are not requiring them to do so.

Michele Ursi GettyImages
Michele Ursi GettyImages

No statewide mask mandate yet

Gov. Phil Murphy has said masking and testing policies are now being determined by local school districts and there are no plans to re-instate a statewide mask mandate, because COVID cases remain much lower than last year, and health officials have not predicted a significant increase in the coming weeks.

At the end of 2021, the omicron variant began spreading and some Department of Health models predicted New Jersey hospitalizations could spike to 6,000.

The governor has also stated he reserves the right to change his mind about a possible stateside mask mandate, depending on what happens moving forward.

David Matthau is a reporter for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at david.matthau@townsquaremedia.com

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