Jersey City schools cautiously administering mask breaks for students on summer-like days
Everyone inside any New Jersey school must wear masks this year to protect themselves of the spread of COVID-19, except in extreme heat. But how hot is too hot to mask up inside?
In New Jersey, that is up to the individual school districts.
"We are offering additional mask breaks when the temperature is 80 and above," says Dr. Norma Fernandez, deputy superintendent of Jersey City Public Schools, where some of the district's 45 buildings are new with working air conditioning. But other buildings do not have AC.
"Thirteen schools are over 100 years old, then we have about 18 schools over 80 years old, so we have very different buildings with different circumstances," Fernandez explains.
EXPLAINER: The CDC's new mask guidelines
In the Jersey City district of nearly 30,000 students, it's up to each teacher to decide when it's time to take the masks off inside.
"They are in the same room, the have the same temperature, and they see their children. They'll be able to tell if they look tired, are they out of breath, are they complaining," Fernandez says.
Mask breaks are still a tough and scary decision for many as childhood cases of COVID-19 continue to rise at alarming rates.
"It's a tightrope between safety and comfort, but when it comes to safety, it has to take the forefront," Fernandez says.
Fernandez says most of the kids are adapting well, and not uncomfortable wearing masks even on hot, summer-like days.
STATE OF OUR SCHOOLS: Back-to-school resources
Jersey City Schools are fully back in person this year after 18 months of fully remote learning.
As of Wednesday morning, the district reported five positive cases of COVID-19 including four students, two of whom are siblings, and one teacher.
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