New Jersey Department of Health (NJDOH)
Recommendations for K-12 Schools
As of 9/6/2022
In accordance with Executive Order 302 and Executive Directive No. 21-011, K-12 schools only must report weekly student and staff case counts as well as information on student/staff censuses and the total numbers of students/staff fully vaccinated to NJDOH through the Surveillance for Influenza and COVID-19 (SIC) Module in New Jersey’s Communicable Disease Reporting and Surveillance System (CDRSS).
In lieu of individual contact tracing, schools may consider providing cohort notifications (classroom, cohort, team) when exposures occur. These notifications allow individuals and families to take additional precautions according to their individual needs. Schools and ECE programs can use broad-based notifications to provide timely information via phone, email, or letter to families, students, teachers, caregivers, and staff about potential exposure and the actions they should take to remain safe and reduce transmission.
Stay Home When Sick
Students and staff should stay home when sick. Schools/ECE should strictly enforce exclusion criteria for both students and staff. Parents/caregivers should be strongly encouraged to monitor their children for signs and symptoms of illness every day and keep them home if they:
- Have tested positive (viral test) for COVID-19.
- Have symptoms of respiratory or gastrointestinal infections (e.g., cough, fever, sore throat, vomiting, diarrhea).
Quarantine is no longer recommended for people who are exposed to COVID-19, regardless of vaccination status. Therefore, NJDOH will discontinue its recommendation for a Test to Stay Program. However, asymptomatic students and staff who were exposed to COVID-19 should continue to test and wear a mask for 10 days.
Masks remain optional except for certain circumstances below. NJDOH recommends that schools require masks in the following circumstances:
- During periods of elevated community levels
- During an active outbreak
- After returning from isolation
- After a COVID-19 exposure
- When illness occurs in school
Response to Symptomatic Students and Staff
Children and staff with COVID-19 symptoms, regardless of vaccination or previous infection status, should be separated away from others until they can be sent home.
For school/ECE settings, NJDOH recommends that students/staff with the following COVID-19 compatible symptoms to be promptly isolated from others and excluded from school/ECE:
- At least two of the following symptoms: fever (measure or subjective), chills, rigors (shivers), myalgia (muscle aches), headache, sore throat, nausea or vomiting, diarrhea, fatigue, congestion or runny nose; OR
- At least one of the following symptoms: new or worsening cough, shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, new olfactory disorder, new taste disorder.
For students with chronic illness, only new symptoms, or symptoms worse than baseline should be used to fulfill symptom-based exclusion criteria.
Individuals regardless of vaccination status who test positive, and individuals with COVID-19 symptoms who have not been tested and do not have an alternative diagnosis from their healthcare provider should:
- Stay home for at least 5 full days after the onset of symptoms or if asymptomatic after the positive test (day of symptoms is day 0; if asymptomatic, day the test was performed is day 0) AND
- If they have no symptoms or symptoms are resolving after 5 days and are fever-free (without the use of fever-reducing medication) for 24 hours, they can return to school AND:
- Wear a mask when around others at home and in public for an additional 5 days (including participation in any extracurricular activities). Time without mask being worn should be kept to a minimum.
Individuals would be considered exposed to someone with COVID-19 from 2 days prior to symptom onset (or positive test date if asymptomatic) to 5 days after onset (not during the case's additional precaution period at day 6-10).
Quarantine is no longer recommended for people who are exposed to COVID-19 except in certain high-risk congregate settings. In schools and ECE settings, which are generally not considered high-risk congregate settings, people who were exposed to COVID-19 can continue to attend school as long as they remain asymptomatic. CDC recommends that individuals who were exposed to COVID-19 wear a well-fitting mask for 10 days after exposure.
Exposed persons, regardless of vaccination status, are strongly recommended to get tested 5 full days after exposure, on day 6 (date of exposure is considered day 0). If testing is unavailable, school attendance can continue. If they test positive, they must follow isolation recommendations.