Many back-to-school questions remain in NJ as Murphy vacations in Italy
As Governor Phil Murphy enjoys vacation with his family at their posh Italian villa, much uncertainty remains ahead of the new school year.
Murphy jetted off to his multi-million dollar vacation home shortly after announcing that all students and staff would have to wear a mask inside school buildings when the new year begins next month.
As districts plan to welcome students and staff back to full-time in-person learning next month, many are finding it difficult to plan without further guidance from the state.
Among the issues yet to be addressed include varsity sports, after school programs and clubs and the thorny issue of mandatory vaccinations for teachers and other school workers.
Following the announcement of the mask mandate, many school superintendents breathed a sigh of relief. He had punted the issue to local districts, and school boards and school administrators were feeling the heat from the public. The mandate, they say, removed that heat and at least gave clarity to a key back-to-school issue.
Before leaving for Italy, Murphy also suggested more guidance would be coming "soon."
Not soon enough for most districts, who need time to prepare parents, students and staff for the new school year. If Murphy orders mandatory vaccinations for educators, there is little time to get that done before the start of classes.
Its unclear what the governor will do in terms of vaccinations for teachers. He has made them mandatory by September 7 for those working in health care, nursing homes and prisons.
One of Murphy's strongest allies and biggest financial supporter, the New Jersey Education Association, is opposed to mandatory vaccinations. Marie Blistan, president of the New Jersey Education Association, said the state’s largest teachers’ union does urge its members to get the shot. “Because everyone who gets the vaccine now helps make our schools and our communities safer,” Blistan said.