February 22, 2022
COVID Mitigation Procedure Changes Effective 3/7/2022
To the Manasquan School Community:
As I have communicated numerous times over the past nearly two years now, our District and Board of Education have worked hard to keep our schools open and safe as we have weathered the COVID-19 pandemic. Beginning in the Fall of 2020 and our initial re-opening of schools, our goal has always been to restore as much normalcy as possible while navigating the array of requirements, guidelines, and best practices. I am happy to report that recently announced changes in government policy amid the declining case counts in the state and nation now allow us to take additional steps.
The points below outline the procedures the District will follow effective on March 7, 2022:
- Face Masks Optional
Students and staff have been required to wear face masks in schools (with limited exceptions) under Executive Order #251 issued on August 6, 2021. While this legal mandate has yet to be formally repealed, Governor Murphy announced on February 7, “[t]he statewide mask mandate for schools and child care settings will be lifted effective March 7th.” Assuming this occurs, the District will no longer require face masks to be worn in schools by students, staff, or visitors (including at after-school events) as of March 7. Of course, individuals are free to wear face masks if they so choose.
- Close Contacts & Optional Quarantines
When the District is made aware of an individual that tests positive for COVID-19, we engage in a contact tracing process to determine if other individuals may have been exposed. Individuals meeting the definition of a close contact of the positive individual are now required to quarantine and are not permitted in school for 5 days. As of March 7, parents will still be notified if the District becomes aware of a close contact, however, quarantines for close contacts will be optional. Parents may choose to quarantine their child, but this will no longer be required. Parents of students identified as a close contact may also, upon request to the school nurse of main office, receive COVID-19 rapid/antigen tests for their child who was a close contact from the District at no cost.
The District’s test-to-stay program will also end as of March 4. Again, parents may request rapid/antigen tests from the school for their child if they were a close contact and administer these tests at home if they chose to do so.
- Relaxed Universal Symptom Screening
Universal symptom screening for all students and staff at school entry points each day will no longer take place. Parents, should, however, monitor children for any of the symptoms of COVID-19, cold, flu, or other illness before they leave home. Students must not be sent to school when sick. School nurses, will, of course, continue to evaluate students who present with symptoms of illness at school and contact parents should students need to be removed.
- Relaxed Social Distancing Protocols During Lunch
Since last school year, particularly at Manasquan Elementary School, students have been seated during lunch periods such that maximum distance was placed between them and other students while eating. While this served the purpose of maintaining social distance and decreasing close contacts while cases of COVID were high in our schools, it necessarily reduced social interactions for students. Beginning March 7, our cafeterias will return to a normal seating configuration. With the reduced prevalence of COVID cases, we feel it is important to restore this social opportunity for students.
- COVID-Positive Individuals & Required Isolation Periods (No Change)
Individuals testing positive for COVID-19 are still required to isolate and not attend school in accordance with CDC guidelines (5 days after the date of symptom onset). We request parents continue to notify their school nurses or offices if a student tests positive for COVID-19 so we can perform the contact tracing outlined above.
While we have worked hard over the past two years to provide the best possible education for our students given the circumstances and mandates, it is without question this has been a difficult period for all involved. The changes outlined above should represent large steps toward a return to normalcy for our students and staff.
Yours in education,
Frank Kasyan, Ed.D.
- Face Masks Optional