NJ has new vaccination policy for extracurricular school activities

While schools in the southern half of New Jersey announced their closures Monday due to the first winter storm of the season, others have chosen not to reopen after the holidays citing the skyrocketing omicron variant of COVID-19.

Red Bank District Public Schools said in a message posted on the district website that “the high volume of reported issues related to COVID-19” prompted the use of one emergency shutdown day, and another could be used, or schools could switch to distance learning or one day “minimum” school class with “take-out” meals offered, if the situation warrants it.

NJ.com reported that several dozen school districts dotting the Garden State had already told families they would not reopen school buildings to begin 2022.

In another article from NJ.com, the New Jersey Education Association said schools should consider “carefully and honestly” whether staying open is the right thing to do. The teachers’ union said it supports districts that are currently remote.

Gov. Phil Murphy, whose wife Tammy received a positive COVID result from a rapid test over the weekend, has so far left the decision to whether or not to keep schools open to different districts.

But cases were rising sharply in New Jersey schools before the holidays, and with hospitalizations are now at their highest statewide since early May 2020, in the first weeks of the pandemic, it has become increasingly evident that children are increasingly among the people in need of treatment outside the home.

Governor Murphy’s regular COVID briefing will take place virtually at 1 p.m. Monday.

The New Jersey Department of Health on Thursday citing “very high” COVID activity levels in at least three regions of the state, recommended that participation in extracurricular activities of the school be limited to students and staff with up-to-date vaccinations according to the recommendations of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices.

Some of the more recent suggestions on this list include use of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine in children from the age of 5, adult booster doses whose primary series was completed two (for Johnson & Johnson) or six (Pfizer or Moderna) months previously, and a preference for Pfizer and Moderna vaccines to be used in relation to the injection of a dose of Johnson & Johnson.

The NJDOH also recommended that all students and staff participating in extracurricular activities, regardless of vaccination statistics, be tested twice a week for COVID.

Patrick Lavery is the anchor for the New Jersey 101.5 afternoon news. Follow it on Twitter @ plavery1015 or send an email to patrick.lavery@townsquaremedia.com.

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