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Masks still optional in Bayonne public schools despite COVID-19 rising again

The district will only mandate masks if the state does

Superintendent Niesz addresses a parent at a Board of Education meeting.

COVID-19 is on the rise again, but masks will remain optional in Bayonne public schools, according to an announcement by Superintendent John Niesz on May 16.

In Niesz’s COVID-19 update, he said the Bayonne School District has been advised that the latest state Department of Health COVID-19 activity level map shows five out of six regions at “high” risk for coronavirus activity as of May 7. Hudson County is now considered “high” for COVID-19.

At the moment, masks remain optional, Niesz said. That would change only if the state mandates masks again, he added.

“We will continue to allow the wearing of face masks in the school district,” Niesz said in his message to the community. “The Bayonne School District will not mandate mask wearing until it is mandated by the State of New Jersey.”

COVID-19 protocols

Niesz remind parents that if they or their child have symptoms of COVID-19 or are confirmed positive there are specific steps to follow.

If the parent and or child are symptomatic or asymptomatic with COVID-19, they should isolate at home for five days, or longer if symptoms like fever and cough persist. If recovered from a COVID-19 illness, children can return to school wearing a mask on days six to 10, Niesz said.

If the parent or child were direct contact with someone with COVID-19, they should wear a mask in school for five days from the date of last contact. If they are unable to isolate from the COVID-positive person, wear a mask for 10 days. If symptoms occur, they should seek a COVID-19 test as soon as possible.

Contact tracing is a key strategy for preventing transmission of at-risk groups, but is not required at this time, according to Niesz.

“If anything changes or we are mandated by the State of New Jersey to take further action we will advise our community,” Niesz said. “We will continue to consult with our Department of Health, City of Bayonne, County of Hudson and State of New Jersey.”

Another virus surge ahead?

In his most recent COVID-19 update, Mayor James Davis said that while COVID-19 is increasing in the region, the city is still doing well. Davis and the Bayonne Office of Emergency Management no longer release active case numbers or positivity rates respectively due to the availability of at-home testing and the cease of the municipal testing site considering the widespread availability of testing.

“As we move further into spring, we are starting to see some increases in COVID cases in the region,” Davis said. “Fortunately, in Bayonne, we only have one resident admitted to the Bayonne Medical Center with COVID.”

For the second time, Davis held a mobile vaccination clinic at City hall at 630 Avenue C on May 14 for those who are eligible. The clinic offered vaccines and boosters in conjunction with the Hudson Regional Health Commission, some of the only municipal offerings to get vaccinated since the site at the Korpi Ice Rink closed.

In addition to getting vaccinated, Davis encourages residents to use “common sense” when it comes to mitigating the virus: “Although we don’t anticipate any large surge, we continue to ask everyone to please practice common sense approaches to avoiding the spread of coronavirus.”

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. 

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