(TRENTON) – Aiming to address the impact of COVID-19 in schools, Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen) introduced legislation today to improve the State’s response to the COVID-19 emergency in our schools.
The two bills would streamline the process for schools and institutions of higher education to track and report COVID-19 data. The bills would also establish comprehensive protocols for notifying teachers and families when a case of COVID-19 has been confirmed.
Working alongside the New Jersey Education Association (NJEA) and the Bergen County Education Association, Assemblywoman Vainieri Huttle has proposed legislation in an effort to keep our teachers and the communities that they serve safe and informed.
“Our educators never imagined that they would be frontline heroes in a crisis such as this. Nonetheless, they have answered the call. As many schools continue to remain open throughout the COVID-19 emergency, it is critical that the State take a leadership role in ensuring their safety,” said Vainieri Huttle. “These bills will provide staff, students and their families with timely information on potential exposure and will also keep the community informed about any potential spikes in COVID-19 cases.”
“We thank Assemblywoman Vainieri Huttle for sponsoring this legislation,” said NJEA President Marie Blistan. “Accurate, timely information is so critical to keeping our schools and communities safe during this pandemic. This information dashboard will help parents and others understand what is happening in our schools and will help everyone make informed decisions about how best to protect our school communities.”
Sue McBride, President of the Bergen County Education Association expressed strong enthusiasm for these bills. “This is timely and much needed legislation that seeks to address several of the frustrations faced by school employees in being notified about COVID cases among their educational communities.”
The bills would:
- Require notification to school communities about COVID-19 infections; exclude members of a school community infected with COVID-19 from in-person activities; and require the New Jersey Department of Education (DOE) to develop a data dashboard on COVID-19 in schools, and;
- Establish protocols for notification and isolation in the event of COVID-19 infections at institutions of higher education and require the Secretary of Higher Education to develop a data dashboard on COVID-19.
The measures now go to the Assembly Speaker for further review.