Urgent New Jersey: NJ Department Of Health Seeks To Ban Vaccine-free Students From All Extracurricular Activities

Our Stand

  • On December 27, the CDC issued a press release titled Recommended Isolation and Quarantine Period for General Population, shortening the time for isolation and quarantine for the general public. However, since the CDC has not yet applied the recently revised isolation and quarantine timeframes for the general population to K-12 schools, it is recommended that NJ K-12 schools continue to follow conventional isolation and quarantine timeframes (10-day isolation/exclusion; 7- or 10-day quarantine/exclusion with and without negative testing). Individuals who have received their booster shot do not need to be quarantined following an exposure, but should wear a mask for 10 days after the exposure.
  • On Thursday, December 30, New Jersey Department of Health (NJDOH) released new guidance for schools in red zones on the state COVID activity map. These recommendations seek to ban vaccine-free students and staff from all extracurricular activities and require twice weekly testing for all students and staff for participation, regardless of vaccination status.
  • In addition to the recommendations that schools continue masking and physical distancing, the NJDOH now adds that K-12 schools should:
    • Conduct routine COVID-19 screening for unvaccinated students and staff.
    • Limit participation in extracurricular activities to those students and staff with “up to date” COVID 19 vaccination.
    • Twice weekly, conduct COVID-19 screening testing of students and staff, regardless of vaccination status, for participation in all extracurricular activities.
  • The COVID-19 vaccine is a tool specifically designed to lessen symptoms for the recipient, not prevent transmission or contraction of the virus. Therefore, what is the rationale for excluding students based on their personal health choices?
  • COVID-19 is endemic. “Endemicity doesn’t mean that there will be no more infections, let alone illnesses and deaths. It also doesn’t mean that future infections will cause milder illnesses than they do now. Simply put, it indicates that immunity and infections will have reached a steady state. Not enough people will be immune to deny the virus a host. Not enough people will be vulnerable to spark widespread outbreaks.” Why are we discriminating against vaccine-free students and staff if this virus is not avoidable, regardless of vaccination status?
  • Excluding healthy students from extracurricular activities (school plays, athletics, drama, chess club) is not only unwarranted, but will cause irreparable harm to their mental and emotional well being. Has the New Jersey Department of Health/New Jersey Department of Education considered the detrimental impact of this recommendation on the overall health of students? The current suicide attempt rate has leapt by as much as half among teenage girls during the coronavirus pandemic. Why is the NJDOH ignoring these staggering statistics and doubling down on the discrimination against vaccine-free students?
  • What science and data is being considered by the NJDOH in making the recommendation to exclude children mid-year from activities they have been participating in since schools reopened?
  • The NJDOH continues to repeatedly shift the COVID-19 goalpost. Who does the NJDOH consider “unvaccinated” as of December 27, 2021 and how often will we see this change as students’ lives are repeatedly disrupted?
  • Current New Jersey bills S3681/A5607 prohibit discrimination against individuals who have not received a COVID-19 vaccine. This legislation should be championed on both sides of the aisle to ensure the protection of NJ students and all NJ residents from medical discrimination.
  • Click to tell your policymakers that you will not stand for discrimination and segregation in our schools, they must removed this new policy now.

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