Jan 26, 2021

More School Closure Guidelines Pertaining to COVID-19...

By Christopher J. Sedefian, Esq.


On January 19, 2021, the New Jersey Department of Health (“NJDOH”) released new guidelines regarding the closure of schools for reasons pertaining to the spread of COVID-19. While the guidance advises that closure is ultimately a local decision, the following recommendations are notable:

  • Where there is one case in the school, the school should remain open, but students and staff in close contact with the positive case are excluded from school for ten days in the absence of testing. They should be excluded for fourteen days when the school is in an orange zone (currently all of New Jersey);
  • Where there are two or more cases in the same classroom, the school should remain open, but students and staff in close contact with the positive individual are excluded from school for ten days in the absence of testing (fourteen days in an orange zone). A public health investigation will issue recommendations regarding whether the entire classroom should be considered exposed;
  • Where there are two or more cases within fourteen days (schoolwide), but they are linked to an exposure outside of the school setting, the school should remain open, but students and staff in close contact with the positive individuals are excluded from school for ten days in the absence of testing (fourteen days in an orange zone);
  • If two or more cases are identified within fourteen days that occur across multiple classrooms, which are not linked to exposures outside of the school setting, and a clear connection between cases cannot be easily identified but in-school transmission is suspected, a potential school closure should be based on an investigation by the local health department; and
  • When a school is in the red zone, indicating a “very high risk” of community transmission, the guidelines recommend that the school implement remote learning until the COVID-19 transmission decreases.
  • Note that in cases where the school remains open, it may consider a temporary closure of two to five days if a student or staff member attended school while potentially infectious, but before being confirmed as having COVID-19.

The guidelines also contain more detailed advice regarding extracurricular activities. The NJDOH recommends that when a school is fully remote due to COVID-19, it should postpone extracurricular activities. If it has an active outbreak but remains open, some or all extracurricular activities may require postponement, based on consultation with the local health department and the public health investigation.

The guidelines may be viewed in their entirety by clicking here.

We recommend that school districts review and familiarize themselves with the revised State guidance. For more information on this Legal Alert or related issues, please contact the education law attorneys at Schenck Price.

DISCLAIMER:  This Alert is designed to keep you aware of recent developments in the law. It is not intended to be legal advice, which can only be given after the attorney understands the facts of a particular matter and the goals of the client.


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