Clifton Issues Mask Resolution, Schools Remain Open During Covid-19 Omicron Surge
New Jersey continues to set record-breaking totals of new Covid cases during the current surge caused by the omicron variant, with the highest number of new positive cases as well as hospitalizations. This week there are more hospitalized with Covid-19 in NJ than during the earlier peak in May of 2020.
Governor Murphy reiterated the priority of both preventing hospital overruns in the state as well as keeping NJ schools open. While the omicron variant is more transmissible than prior strains which has led to the current surge, it also appears to be milder with shorter hospitalizations. But NJ State Health Officials indicated that the transmissibility is creating concern for hospitals due to the sheer numbers of hospitalizations, as it has led to staffing shortages from sickness, quarantines and burnout. The state has requested help from FEMA and the National Guard to keep hospitals staffed.
Governor Murphy confirmed on January 3rd that the state’s priority is to keep schools open. The state shared data that shows outbreaks traced to in-school activities are below what was anticipated based on omicron surge. But, Murphy indicated he would like to maintain the mask mandate in schools, and asked the State Legislature for a 90-day extension of his emergency powers to do so.
Of the over 600 school districts in New Jersey, as of Tuesday less than 30 had moved to virtual instruction due to a Covid-19 surge. Clifton Superintendent Dr. Robertozzi prioritized reopening schools on January 3rd, stating in a letter to district parents that despite some school districts announcing closures and virtual instruction due to an omicron surge “I firmly believe that our children need to be in school and that virtual instruction should only be utilized as a last resort.” Shortly before January 3rd
the district reiterated schools would remain open, but the option for short-term home instruction through asynchronous learning on Google Classroom would be made available for a two-week period through January 14th for families who preferred to keep students home.
The Clifton Health Department released updated guidelines from the CDC on Tuesday that include reduced quarantine requirements..
Today, Clifton City Manager Nick Villano shared a resolution from the City Council that encourages indoor masking at all Clifton businesses and facilities that are open to the public. Villano indicated that masks are now mandatory in all city facilities, but explained via email “the mask requirement is not mandatory (for businesses) it is a suggestion, in order to mandate it we would need enforcement action.” The resolution explains this recommendation is made based on data and new guidelines from the CDC related to the Covid-19 omicron variant. To read the full resolution click here.