Mask Mandate Ready to Throw Ocean City School District

Starting March 7, students and district staff will no longer be required to wear masks.

By MADDY VITALE

Ocean City Acting Superintendent of Schools Dr. Tom Baruffi posted a message this week ahead of the governor’s lifting of the mask mandate in schools across the state.

The letter was sent to students, teachers and parents/guardians. In Thursday’s post, Dr. Baruffi outlined some of Gov. Phil Murphy’s latest directives.

As of Monday, March 7, wearing a face covering will become optional for people in schools as well as for visitors. Masks will still be mandatory on school buses.

“This change in practice aligns with the Governor’s announcement to remove the mask mandate, which was based on the recent decrease in the reported number of COVID-19 cases and associated hospitalizations throughout New Jersey,” detailed Dr. Baruffi in his letter. “Similarly, the number of positive cases in our own district has dropped significantly.”

For nearly two years, the district has had to navigate the pandemic not only through virtual and hybrid learning models, but also through some of the struggles and opposing viewpoints of parents and other community members. and the district regarding the wearing of masks.

The school board at the last meeting on January 26.

The subject has been a burning issue raised primarily by parents at several school board meetings. He was even part of a platform for two of the education council candidates in their unsuccessful bids to win council seats in the November election.

Board of Education member Jacqueline McAlister, who for several years served as vice-chair of the board until 2021, commented on Sunday on how students and families have generally handled the mask mandate.

“Students and families in our district have handled the pandemic with grace and understanding,” McAlister said. “We are very grateful for their flexibility and remain very proud of the students who continue to achieve their goals despite the monumental challenges posed by COVID-19.”

She noted that as the governor’s mask mandate expires, “we can finally approach wearing masks as a decision best left to families.”

“Parents and students can weigh the benefits of masks for themselves, and we will continue to support our students in those decisions,” McAlister said. “If the governor issues another mandate related to public schools, we will include the community in the conversation and make the best decisions possible for our school community.”

Acting Superintendent of Schools Dr. Tom Baruffi, right, greets students on the first day of school in September when masks were required.

Like McAlister, Dr. Baruffi pointed out that things continue to stay fluid and can change.

“Please understand that the District reserves the right to require masks based on direction from the (State) Department of Health and in response to a school-based outbreak or a significant increase in COVID-19 cases. in our region, even if for a limited period,” Dr. Baruffi said in his letter.

He also pointed out that there are specific rules that must be followed regarding confirmed cases and “close contacts”.

Students and staff returning to school after five days of isolation due to a confirmed case of COVID-19 or “close contact” may still be required to wear a face covering for a some time when they return to school, he explained.

In closing his letter, he thanked the community.

“Through diligence and a lot of determination, we were able to maintain in-person teaching while providing a safe learning environment, even at the height of the positive cases,” Dr. Baruffi said.

“The most important factor, however, has been the cooperation of students, parents and staff. This is a time to celebrate a milestone in our quest to return to normalcy,” he said. “We thank you for your continued support and remain committed to providing the best education for the children in our district.”

To see the letter from Acting Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Tom Baruffi, in its entirety, visit: www.oceancityschools.org or visit the neighborhood on the Facebook page.

Norma A. Roth