Students required to wear face coverings in schools at all times

Press release from the state Department of Education.

Students are required to wear face coverings, unless doing so would inhibit the student’s health. It is necessary to acknowledge that enforcing the use of face coverings may be impractical for young children or individuals with disabilities.

Exceptions to the required include a student’s health, extreme heat, high-intensity activities, etc. More can be found by visiting NJ.gov/Education.

The department is recommending students to be reminded to not touch their face coverings and wash their hands frequently.

Currently, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) does not recommend use of face shields as a substitute for face coverings. Therefore, they may not be used to satisfy the face covering requirement detailed above. However, they may be an option for students with medical or other challenges that preclude the use of face coverings. If face shields are used without a mask, they should wrap around the sides of the wearer’s face and extend to below the chin.

Students and educators that rely on facial cues may consider use of clear face coverings where available. This might include students who are deaf or hard of hearing, students receiving speech/language services, young students in early education programs, and English-language learners.

Researchers have identified “frequent discomfort” as a potential challenge associated with implementing use of face covering requirements. Students and staff should be provided face covering breaks throughout the day.

Face covering breaks should only occur when social distancing can be maintained and ideally outside or with windows open.

Face coverings should be provided by the student’s family/guardian and can be included as part of the back to school supplies list provided to families/guardians prior to the start of the school year. Schools should strive to provide extra disposable face coverings for students who need them, and should provide face coverings for students that are experiencing financial hardship and are unable to afford them to the greatest extent possible.

More information on the mandate can be found by visiting NJ.gov/Education.