The New Jersey Department of Health recently issued a FAQ document that answers a variety of questions related to how schools, early care and education programs and youth camps should manage infectious disease and prevention strategies, including steps specific to COVID-19.

This document is meant to be used in conjunction with other guidance provided by the NJDOH as well as by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Health Recommendations for Schools and Early Care Education Programs: Schools and early care education programs should utilize CDC’s Operational Guidance for K-12 Schools and Early Care and Education Programs to Support Safe In-Person Learning as a resource for COVID-19 mitigation strategies in the school setting. Based on COVID-19 activity levels, CDC guidance provides flexibility so schools and early care education programs can adapt to changing local situations, including periods of increased community health impacts from COVID-19.

Public Health Information: Understanding that COVID-19 may impact certain areas of the state differently, NJDOH shares the COVID-19 Weekly Activity Report. This report provides information on the CDC’s COVID-19 hospital admission levels at the county level. The report is posted online on Fridays. Schools and early care education programs should consult their local health department to consider additional local factors.

Vaccinations: Schools and early care education programs and local health departments should promote equitable access to vaccinations. Strategies from the CDC include providing information about COVID-19 vaccines and other recommended vaccines, including in accessible formats for individuals with disabilities and for individuals with limited English proficiency; encouraging trust and confidence in COVID-19 vaccines; making getting vaccinated easy and convenient; and making vaccinations available by hosting school-located vaccination clinics or directing to off-site vaccination locations. For COVID- 19, staying up to date with COVID-19 vaccinations is the leading public health strategy to prevent severe disease. Information on how to get vaccinated in New Jersey can be found here.

The FAQ document includes a variety of other recommendations and answers to common questions such as:

  • What are exclusion recommendations for students/staff who test positive or have symptoms of COVID-19 and have not been tested?
  • Should children/students who are unable to mask (e.g., under 2 years old, children with disabilities who cannot safely wear a mask) from days 6-10 following a positive test be excluded for a full 10 days?
  • When does NJDOH recommend masking in educational settings?
  • Are masks recommended in the nurse’s office?
  • Can individuals who are returning to school after at least five days of isolation test out of wearing a mask?
  • What if a person develops symptoms of COVID-19 while in school and is unable to wear a mask?
  • Why is masking only recommended for COVID-19 and not for other respiratory diseases?
  • When is testing for COVID-19 recommended?
  • Are students/staff with COVID-19 symptoms required to have a negative COVID-19 test or an alternate diagnosis before returning to school?
  • Is screening testing still recommended?
  • Is SIC module reporting still a requirement?
  • Are schools required to report positive COVID-19 test results to the NJDOH?
  • Should schools have a policy for notification of COVID-19 cases and exposures?
  • What is considered an outbreak of COVID-19?
  • What is the guidance on using nebulizers in schools?

For information on staying home when sick with COVID-19, including recommendations for isolation and mask use for people who test positive or who are experiencing symptoms consistent with COVID-19, view information on isolation and precautions for people with COVID-19.

Testing is recommended for people with symptoms of COVID-19 as soon as possible after symptoms begin. A person with COVID-19 symptoms should also consider getting tested for other respiratory illnesses that could be spread to others, such as flu.

Get answers to all of the above questions and additional guidance on navigating the challenges posed by COVID-19 and other infectious diseases in the full FAQ document.