- Not a COVID-19 hot spot: The northeastern part of the United States, including New Jersey, is not a major COVID-19 hot spot. Fortunately, Jersey City has been largely spared the major uptick in hospitalizations seen in much of the south, from Texas to Florida.
- COVID-19 infections are generally mild for most children: Hospitalization and death continues to be significantly lower in the school age population, according to CDC data.
- Delta: While the SARS-CoV-2 Delta variant has proven to be highly transmissible, the Delta variant has not shown to be more severe in children and adolescents (as indicated by the hospitalization rates before and after the Delta variant dominated infections).
- Reducing risk: Schools in New Jersey are largely following the latest guidance that will reduce transmission and severe outcomes in children and adolescents: encouraging vaccination and universal masking in schools and other indoor spaces
- Teachers are vaccinated or tested: New Jersey Governor Murphy signed an executive order requiring teachers of preschoolers to 12th grade students to be vaccinated or regularly tested. The law will strengthen protections for teachers and students alike.
- Vaccinations: Hudson County is 62% fully vaccinated (72% of people ages 12+), versus a national average of 53% overall (62% of people ages 12+). Vaccinations have been shown to prevent illness, to reduce the severity of COVID-19 symptoms when rare breakthrough infections do happen, and to decrease transmission. Hospitalization rates were shown to be 10 times higher among unvaccinated adolescents than among fully vaccinated adolescents. “The vast majority of hospitalization and death caused by COVID-19 are in unvaccinated people,” according to the CDC. And the chances of a breakthrough infection in New Jersey are likely around 1 in 10,000.
- Avoiding Learning Loss: Many students fell behind during the virtual learning months since the start of the pandemic, and this learning loss disproportionately affected Blacks, Hispanics, low-income households, and urban students.
- Improving Mental Health: Parents reported an increase in a variety of clinical mental health conditions in their children during the pandemic. In-person learning will likely mitigate these conditions of anxiety, depression, social withdrawal, social isolation, lethargy, and irrational fear.
- Return to Work: Reopening Jersey City schools to full-time in-person learning will enable parents to return to work. Many parents left the workforce to care for children during the pandemic, and this childcare responsibility was disproportionately assumed by women. The reopening of schools will enable women to reenter the workforce if they choose that as the best option for them and their families.
- It’s fun! So many students are happy to have the privilege to go back to school with all of their friends, rather than begrudgingly return to the obligation of school after an enjoyable summer. The kids will enjoy the social interaction with a fresh look on the experience.