The Rutherford Board of Education passed a resolution during its regular meeting on Monday, April 5, requesting that the Bergen County Department of Health (BCDOH) adhere to the COVID -19 guidelines set forth by the state and nation when it comes to mandatory quarantining in schools. The formal action is in response to BCDOH’s guidelines, which are far more restrictive than those recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the New Jersey Department of Health (NJDOH).
The resolution calls the BCDOH’s guidelines unnecessarily restrictive and says that almost 1,000 Rutherford students have had to quarantine since September 2020, causing deep concern about “the mental health and emotional wellbeing of our district’s students because of the frequency of the unnecessary quarantining.” The resolution also points out that not a single student or teacher who was required to quarantine was COVID positive and that not a single case has been transmitted in the school setting, according to contact tracing.
This is just the latest effort by school officials to get the BCDOH to reevaluate its guidelines with respect to schools. On March 26, Superintendent Jack Hurley sent a letter to Governor Phil Murphy, Bergen County Executive James Tedesco, and BCBOH expressing concerns and questions regarding the disparities within the county related to positive exposures.
The definition of “close contact” differs between the BCDOH and both the CDC and NJDOH — but only when applied to schools.
“Under these guidelines, we’ve been forced to close schools because we have had to quarantine too many teachers and staff because of just one positive case in a building,” explained Mr. Hurley. “However, the same rules are not applied to county restaurants, youth sports teams or, literally, any other scenario except other schools in our county.”
The Board of Education’s resolution and Mr. Hurley’s letter asks for consistency, urging that the BCBOH follow the guidelines set forth by the CDC and NJDOH. They’d also like know the reason why this hasn’t happened already.
A copy of the resolution will be sent to the BCDOH, NJDOH, Bergen County Department of Education, Governor Phil Murphy, Secretary of State Tahesha Way, the New Jersey Department of Education, and the New Jersey School Board Association.