WAYNE, NJ — The weather forecast for the first three days of this week “calls for excessive heat,” said Wayne Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Mark Toback in a letter to parents. Because of this, all the public schools are on a minimum day schedule for Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. With this heat comes the difficulty for students and staff to wear masks for the entire school day.
“Here in New Jersey, the mask mandate remains in effect by executive order,” wrote Toback, who also mentioned that: “Due to the large percentage of unvaccinated school-aged students, the CDC continues to recommend face coverings while in school for the remainder of the 20/21 school.”
The NJ Dept of Education school reopening website says that face coverings are required by students, staff and visitors with some exceptions, one of which is: “When a student is in extreme heat outdoors.” There is no mention of extreme heat indoors.
Toback consulted the Wayne Department of Health for their guidance on mask wearing when there is excessive heat. Here are their recommendations:
- Frequent mask breaks inside the classroom every 20-30 minutes for approximately 10 minutes (times may be adjusted as necessary)
- Encourage water intake during mask breaks
- Outdoor breaks without masks when appropriate
- Any student who appears unable to tolerate wearing a mask due to the heat should be exempt from the requirement
- Physical distancing should be maintained.
“While we must comply with New Jersey masking requirements at this point, these recommendations from the Wayne Department of Health and a minimum day schedule will provide some relief from these difficult conditions to protect the health and wellbeing of students and staff,” added Toback.
Lastly, the Superintendent said that he reached out to the NJ Director of Emergency Management, who, according to Toback, “does have the discretion to make additions, amendments, clarifications, exceptions, and exclusions to the terms of executive orders.” As of the writing of his letter, he is still awaiting a response.