School year brings new quarantine instruction guidelines for teachers and students

The 2021-2022 school year kicked off on September 8, 2021 still in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic. Students and staff entered this school year with new rules and regulations regarding Covid-19 to ensure everyone’s safety and health.
Prior to the first day, each student was asked to submit their vaccination status on a Google Form before returning to school this year. If a student was vaccinated, they submitted picture proof of their vaccination card. After previewing all the statements sent by the administrators, one major difference was revealed: “Students and staff who have been fully vaccinated for two weeks will not be required to quarantine after close contact.”
For those who are vaccinated, Nurse Connor says, “The health department recommends for vaccinated people to keep their distance, wear a mask, and wash hands after exposure, followed by a Covid test 3 days after being exposed.”
However, for those who are not vaccinated, when the school designates a student as a close contact, or if they are notified by parents of a verified exposure outside of school, unvaccinated students would be placed on the quarantine list.
According to the New Jersey Department of Health, “Close contacts of a Covid-19 case who are not fully vaccinated should be excluded for 10 days (in absence of testing) from the date of last contact.” Teachers will be notified regarding quarantined students via email and they will “ make instruction available to the student through one of the means discussed at the September faculty meeting.” Teachers are required to provide students with the work they will be missing via live instruction, a video explaining the classwork completed, or a Google classroom post.
If a student is on the quarantine list, the state requires that they are not marked absent, but rather coded as present. The Virtual Present Code allows the attendance office to do that, but teachers have been informed that students are considered absent from class the days they are out. Dr Neigel says, “If students are feeling well and can keep up with the work, that is ideal. However, if necessary, they are entitled to time to complete the work as per the student handbook.”
New mandates from Governor Murphy do not require any virtual instruction for any schools in the state of New Jersey this school year therefore instruction while in quarantine is not the same as last year’s virtual instruction. A teacher’s focus must be the students who are present in the class, but still taking measures to make sure that students who are quarantined have access to the instruction while they are out.
After these past two school years full of uncertainty, measures are being revisited in hopes to return normalcy to daily school life, regardless of the restrictions.