Masks In Schools: Hoboken And Jersey City Go Mask-Optional Monday

HOBOKEN, NJ — As some New Jersey school districts, including Hoboken and Jersey City, prepare to go mask-optional this coming Monday, they also have to look at how to handle aspects of the change.

Sara Potler LaHayne, the founder of the preK-12 social emotional learning curriculum Move This World, said this week that as mask mandates change in New Jersey and New York, educators and families should "practice empathy to build an understanding of the experiences of others. We've all experienced different realities during the pandemic."

She explained, "It's normal for children to feel confused as mask mandates are removed in schools. They've grown accustomed to wearing masks for the past two years, which is a long time in their young lives! Adults, too, have a lot of diverse experiences and opinions about mask wearing and the pandemic. Not everyone in a school community is going to agree."

Hoboken And Jersey City Superintendents Weigh In

Acting Jersey City Superintendent of Schools Dr. Norma Fernandez discussed the mask-optional policy in a video this week.

"It is your choice," she said. "We are not abandoning our ongoing safety protocols and procedures designed to mitigate the spread of the COVID-19 virus."

Hoboken Superintendent Christine Johnson announced her decision in mid-February after polling the school community.

"While this decision may not be favorable to all, it is one that comes with input and the authority to change if necessary," Johnson said in February. "It allows for those that feel comfortable wearing a mask to do so and for those that do not feel comfortable to opt not to wear one."

The state of New Jersey is urging parents to talk to their own pediatrician about the right safety measures for their child.

See the districts' websites for information on other COVID protocols and updates.

Statewide Changes

The state handed down a series of new recommendations on Feb. 22 for vaccinations, masks, and more.

Among them, the state said, "Circumstances in New Jersey have improved to the point where relaxation of universal masking rules in K-12 schools can generally occur. School administrators should be prepared for the emergence of new variants or substantial waning immunity that could once again lead to greater morbidity, mortality, and disruption...."

The mask mandate has been dropped for school buses.

People can get information about Hudson County COVID tests and vaccines here.

Children are less likely to get seriously ill with COVID than adults. However, the CDC has called children losing a parent to COVID a "hidden pandemic." And parents and children have experienced long COVID, as one Hoboken mom shared last year.

In America, more than 955,000 people have died of COVID since the start of the pandemic. The daily death rate is highest right now in these states.

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This article originally appeared on the Hoboken Patch