(TRENTON) – To improve the detection of COVID-19 and prevent its spread through daycare facilities soon to reopen, Assembly Majority Conference Leader Annette Quijano will introduce legislation requiring weekly testing of all daycare staff in New Jersey.
“I am repeatedly hearing from constituents and parents that the guidance released ahead of daycare centers opening does not do enough to address their critical health concerns,” said Quijano (D-Union).
“The guidance relies on children understanding and adhering to social distancing, frequent hand washing, and mask wearing. This asks a lot of our youngest children and will be difficult for staff to monitor and enforce, especially when it comes to toddlers. The concern is that children in these contexts don’t just share toys and close space in these contexts, but also viruses.
“Temperature screenings of all individuals entering the building and sworn statements are important, but they simply aren’t enough. They do not take into account the significant number of asymptomatic individuals testing positive.”
The forthcoming legislation would require all daycare staff to be tested once every seven days in staggered groupings. It would require the Department of Health and the Department of Children & Family Services to develop temporary regulations within 10 days of enactment.
“We have seen the impact of this coronavirus in our long term care facilities and we’ve since learned that staff in these facilities were often unknowingly vectors of the virus,” said Quijano. “Regular, large scale testing was what could have prevented these outbreaks.
“We need to be more proactive in our daycares. We have an abundance of free and low-cost testing available now — let’s use it to protect our children, staff and the greater community.”
Under the proposed bill, staff members and daycare centers would be responsible for confirming required testing has occurred. Individuals tested would need to submit their results within one day of receiving them. The measure further requires all public and private testing centers as well as labs to prioritize these tests.