Large N.J. school district to make face masks optional for at least a week –

Plainfield Public Schools, among New Jersey’s largest school districts, will make face masks optional starting Monday.

“Due to a low level of COVID-19 in the community, the Plainfield Public Schools will be mask optional next week,” the district said in a Facebook post Friday. “Students and staff can wear a mask or not — it is up to them!”

The announcement for the 22nd largest district in the state came a week after supervisor of nursing, Myrna Dyson, announced just four new confirmed positive tests in the district. The new mask rules will last for a week as the district reassesses for the end of March and start of April, the district said.

Previously, the school district, which comprises 27 schools and Pre-K centers, said it would continue to mandate masks until the county is at the “green level” indicating a low rate of transmission. School officials did not rule out re-instating mask mandates based on case spikes.

It’s been nearly two weeks since Gov. Phil Murphy dropped the statewide school mask mandate — ending New Jersey’s public-health emergency over the pandemic the same day.

As of Saturday, all of New Jersey’s 21 counties were listed as having “low” rates of transmission, according to recently updated guidelines from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Healthy people in the low and medium categories are no longer recommended to wear masks.

Union County reported 78 new confirmed COVID-19 cases and no new deaths Saturday, according to the latest data on the state’s coronavirus dashboard. The city of Plainfield reported a dramatic decline in cases in its latest update March 10. The city had 4,420 new confirmed positive cases between January and December 2021 and 1,683 cases between January and March of this year, city officials said.

Earlier this month, the West Windsor-Plainsboro Regional school district similarly announced COVID policies based on the county COVID-19 Activity level Index, or CALI level. The district’s mask rules stipulate face coverings are required for students and staff in the Pre-k through fifth grade buildings unless the CALI level is green, indicating a low rate of transmission.

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Steven Rodas may be reached at Follow him @stevenrodasnj.

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