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New Jersey issues guidance on safety guidelines for the 2021-22 school year

On June 28, 2021, the New Jersey Department of Education and the Department of Health issued “Health and Safety Guidelines for the 2021-22 School Year.” The document replaces the protocols previously issued by the State in Executive Order 175 and the Road Back. While things are still changing, it provides a glimpse of what next year might look like.

Some highlights of the document are:

  • Schools MUST open for in-person, full-time instruction in the fall.  Schools should consider maintaining social distancing where possible, but the inability to do so cannot prevent the opening of our schools in-person.
  • If your child has a special or medical need that requires remote instruction, that would still need to be met. “Long-standing statutory and regulatory procedures for providing accommodations for students with medical conditions including home or out-of-school instruction and special education procedures will remain in place as they were prior to the pandemic.”  See
  • The State acknowledges that not all school-aged children are eligible to be vaccinated.  However, districts are encouraged to promote vaccination for all eligible students and staff.
  • Will your child be required to wear a mask to school in the fall?

The Guidelines say that “updated guidance on masking in this setting is expected prior to the start of the 2021-22 school year and will factor into the final recommendations from the State for masking in the fall.”  Masks will be required on all school buses, regardless of vaccination status.  The same day the Guidelines were published, Governor Murphy stated on Twitter, that “absent any change in our situation before the beginning of the school year, masking of our students while in school buildings will NOT be mandatory – unless a school provides masking as a part of its own protocols.”  He also said “any student or educator who feels more comfortable wearing a mask will be allowed to without fear of bullying or intimidation.”

See the Governor’s June 28, 2021 briefing at:

  • Schools should continue to promote hand washing and covering coughs with a tissue if not wearing a mask.
  • Schools can consider, but are not required, to maintain cohorts, particularly during any period of high community transmission, if vaccine coverage is low, or if the maximal social distancing recommendations cannot be maintained.
  • Can my child eat lunch at school?  Schools should consider implementing layered prevention strategies for safety, such as considering alternatives to group dining options, avoiding self-serve food options, staggering eating times, and considering alternative settings such as eating in classroom or outdoors.
  • Was your child freezing in a classroom last January with the windows open?  Hopefully this won’t be happening next year.  While districts should improve airflow when possible, the Guidelines state that schools should not open windows or doors if doing so poses a security risk such as exposure to extreme temperatures, falling, or triggering asthma symptoms.
  • Will my child be excluded from school if he is exposed to someone with COVID-19?  Maybe.  It depends on his vaccination status, but exposed people who have close contact with a person diagnosed with COVID-19 who are fully vaccinated and have no COVID-19 symptoms do not have to quarantine.

Need more information? Contact the attorneys at Reisman Carolla Gran & Zuba LLP,, by email or at 856.354.0021.  Our attorneys are working hard to ensure continuity of services and to protect our children now more than ever.