Highland Park Families Ask School Board to Implement Common Sense and Science-Based Strategies to Keep Students in School This Year

Highland Park Families For A Vaccine Requirement are calling upon the Highland Park Board of Education, as well as Governor Phil Murphy to implement common-sense strategies to keep students in school. 

Parents and caregivers are expected to attend the September 13, 2021 Board of Education meeting in Highland Park to reiterate their demand for a true vaccine mandate and a Test & Stay program. 

“Availability of rapid tests make quarantines due to exposure unnecessary” said Rob Scott, a Highland Park parent. “Quarantines are comparable to a suspension — a punishment — for preventable exposures.”

The meeting will be held in-person tonight, but a zoom option will be available for public comment, which is expected to start around 7:30 PM ET. The zoom link is https://zoom.us/my/highlandparkboe

“Schools are an essential service and educators are essential workers,” said Elizabeth Weill-Greenberg, a parent of a Highland Park public school student. “It’s time Governor Murphy starts acting like it.” 

The Highland Park group is calling on their local school board and Governor Murphy to implement common-sense strategies to keep children in school: 

Test & Stay: Many places around the country (including the entire states of Massachusetts and Utah) and the world are doing Test & Stay programs as an alternative to quarantines. Such a program could help keep thousands of students in school. Test & Stay programs allow children who were exposed to a student who tested positive to keep coming to school during a quarantine period if they get a daily negative rapid test every morning. Rapid tests must be provided to families free of charge.

Instruction During Quarantine: The state must mandate districts provide live virtual instruction to students required to quarantine by the school district.

Vaccine Mandate: All students 12 and up, teachers, and school staff must be vaccinated, unless granted a medical exemption. The state must set up on-site vaccine clinics at every school in the state. Highland Park community members, students, and parents have signed an open letter in support of a vaccine mandate, without a testing option, for students 12+, teachers, and school staff. 

Outdoor Eating: The state must provide each school with tents, tables, chairs, and other necessary support to set up outdoor dining areas for students. The Highland Park school district must immediately allow and strongly encourage students to eat outside as much as possible, especially children too young to be vaccinated. When not possible to eat outside, students must be seated spaced out inside to avoid quarantines. Parents have requested that the district make stronger use of outdoor spaces since spring 2020.

“Kids have gone through so much,” said Rebecca Hersh, a Highland Park parent of three children in the public schools. “We can avoid a third disrupted school year if we get serious about using available tools to avoid quarantines of healthy kids, namely, outdoor and socially distant eating, and Test & Stay programs.”

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