Weekly COVID-19 tests of unvaccinated school staff on hold

According to Superintendent of Schools John Niesz, the state contractor is not ready

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The weekly COVID-19 testing of unvaccinated employees in the Bayonne School District is currently on hold, according to Superintendent of Schools John Niesz.

In an interview with the Bayonne Community News, Niesz said it is not clear when the policy, which was supposed to kick in on Oct. 18, will now actually go into effect.

Mandated via executive order

The testing was mandated by an executive order by Gov. Phil Murphy requiring all public school staff to either be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 or face regular testing. Back in the summer, school districts were given two choices as to how they were going to perform the testing.

“We chose option one, that the state was going to do our testing,” Niesz said. “The governor has allowed those school districts that chose option one, meaning having a New Jersey state Department of Health contractor tests the unvaccinated.”

According to Niesz, the program is not yet ready to go. They were advised last week that the program is on hold until further notice.

“When it is, then our testing will begin,” he said.

Niesz said it is not clear when the program will be ready to launch.

“We did speak to the Governor’s Office and they’re working on it with the contractors,” Niesz said.

According to Niesz, Bayonne isn’t the only district affected by this.

“That’s statewide,” Niesz said. “So anybody who chose that option, that’s all on hold pending the state Department of Health contractor being ready to start the testing program.”

Testing procedures

Prior to the news that testing for the unvaccinated would be on hold, the district outlined its testing procedures that will take effect when the program is ready to launch.

Vaccinated staff will not need to submit to a weekly COVID-19 test. Unvaccinated staff will have to submit negative test results every Friday.

Test results must be sent via email with a copy of the results to covidtest@bboed.org with a name and building location. Results can also be texted to 201-978-7964 with name and building location.

Unvaccinated employees will not be given time off to get tested.

If tests results have not come back in yet, the district “will wait a reasonable amount of time” for results to come in. If the employee is absent or school is closed on Friday, the results must be submitted the next regular day of school.

Employees who do not get tested will be sent a reminder by the district to do so. Consequences include reminders, verbal, written directives, and after repeated attempts to get test results, being removed from their position until they submit a negative test result. Personal days can be used during this, but after they are exhausted employees will be placed on unpaid leave until submitting a negative test result.

Looking ahead

If an employee tests positive, they must notify their supervisor and follow subsequent instructions. For any questions or more information, contact a building principal or email wrogers@bboed.org.

While some had questions, most teachers in the district were okay with the the ‘vaccine mandate,’ President of the Bayonne Education Association Gene Woods told the Bayonne Community News back in August.

For updates on this and other stories, check www.hudsonreporter.com and follow us on Twitter @hudson_reporter. Daniel Israel can be reached at disrael@hudsonreporter.com.