Mask Mandate & Contact Tracing Update

Effective Monday, March 7th, masks will be optional while traveling on school buses and in the Ramapo Indian Hills Regional High School District, Franklin Lakes Public Schools, Oakland Public Schools, and Wyckoff Public Schools (FLOW) for students, staff, and visitors. The decision to wear or not wear a mask is a personal one, and no staff member or student will be treated differently or criticized for his or her choice. As Covid-19 case rates, percent positivity, and hospitalizations continue to decrease significantly and stabilize across New Jersey after our Omicron surge in early January, it is appropriate for the FLOW districts to choose a more typical communicable disease control model. Moving forward, absent a New Jersey Public Health Emergency declaration, the FLOW districts will rely on a local assessment of the pandemic’s trajectory in regard to the implementation of any communicable disease control guidelines. 

Our District has reported weekly single-digit cases for five consecutive weeks. The current Covid-19 Activity Level Indicator (CALI) Report for our Northeast Region is at its lowest level since October of 2020. Governor Murphy has announced that the current public health emergency will expire on Monday, March 7th, as will his “mask mandate” for schools. 

In addition, effective Monday, March 7th, we will no longer conduct tracing or require close contacts of an in-school exposure to quarantine regardless of vaccination status. Individuals will continue to be excluded from school if they develop symptoms. This decision is made as a result of the low COVID community activity level in the region. This approach will help our schools, students, and teachers continue in-person learning with fewer disruptions as it is time to adapt and help each other and our students learn to coexist with the virus.  

Bergen County has an overall “low” Covid-19 community level, but more importantly, since our decisions are guided first and foremost by what our local communities are experiencing, our FLOW Region is experiencing “very low” vulnerability to Covid-19. 92.7% of Bergen County residents are vaccinated with at least 1+ dose, 76.4% have 2 doses or J&J, and 36.6% have received a booster dose. As a result of higher vaccination rates and the Omicron dominant variant causing much milder illness, meaningful consequences of the virus such as hospitalizations, emergency room visits, and deaths should guide our communicable disease control response. 

Communicable disease control means that our schools will continue to encourage social distancing, promote good hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette, allow for optional masking, perform active disease surveillance, and report all known positive cases to our local public health authorities. 

In the case of an identifiable school outbreak, we will implement and maintain measures recommended by our local health department to control the outbreak, such as environmental cleaning and exclusion. If notification is determined to be necessary after consultation with public health officials, we will provide information and resources to our school community on the current health concern. 

Students and staff should continue to follow our Covid-19 positive exclusions and Centers for Disease Control and PreventionNew Jersey Department of Health“Shortened Recommended Isolation” guidelines for those individuals who have confirmed or suspected COVID-19 or are showing symptoms of COVID-19 regardless of vaccination status. 

As always, we appreciate our community’s support and cooperation. You can assist us by remaining vigilant but sensible in your approach to dealing with the evolving nature of this pandemic. Should you have any questions please feel free to contact your building administrator, your child’s class administrator, or the school nurse.