Search for COVID-19 Information Here

Are schools open? What are the safety requirements?

Last Updated: 02/08/2023

All public school districts in New Jersey are expected to provide full-time, in-person instruction.

Vaccinations, including booster doses for those eligible, remain the best defense against COVID-19. Testing and masking remain important to detect and decrease transmission of COVID-19.

The New Jersey Department of Health recommends that schools and early childhood education centers continue to follow these COVID-19 prevention measures:

  • Encourage students and staff to stay up to date with vaccination.
  • Encourage students and staff to stay home when sick.
  • Support mask use by students and staff who choose to mask at any time.
  • Reporting positive test results and illness according to school policies.
  • Prohibit in-school attendance for those who are symptomatic or have recently tested positive for COVID-19 and other contagious illnesses.
  • Provide information to parents, students, and staff on prevention strategies including testing and masking following illness and exposure.
  • Implement control measures recommended by local health departments in response to clusters of cases (including increases in respiratory illness) and confirmed outbreaks.
  • Continue to report outbreaks and suspected outbreaks immediately to LHDs.
  • Follow reporting requirements for reportable diseases. Find out whether a disease is reportable on the Communicable Disease Service website.


Individual school districts and school boards may determine whether universal masking is appropriate for their schools. In making this decision, consultation with the local health department and school district medical personnel is recommended.

The Department of Health continues to recommend these masking guidelines to schools, early childhood education centers, and transportation companies that service these facilities:

  • When COVID-19 Community Levels are high, the Department of Health recommends universal masking for all students and staff, especially if there is difficulty incorporating other prevention strategies like adequate ventilation and spacing.
  • During an active outbreak, schools should consult with their local health departments about whether to require short-term universal masking or masking in affected classrooms.
  • Students and staff who return to school after 5 full days of isolation should be required to mask during days 6-10, or until they test negative using two antigen tests collected at least 48 hours apart starting on day 6.
  • After a COVID-19 exposure, exposed individuals should wear a well-fitting mask for 10 days from last exposure, regardless of vaccination status.
  • When illness occurs, students or staff who become ill with symptoms consistent with COVID-19 while in school or care should wear a mask until they leave the premises.

Stay Home When Sick

Students and staff should stay home if they test positive for COVID-19 or have symptoms like coughing, fever, sore throat, vomiting, or diarrhea. Parents and caregivers should monitor their children for signs of illness.

Regardless of vaccination status, individuals who test positive or have COVID-19 symptoms but have not been tested and do not have an alternative diagnosis from their healthcare provider should:

  • Stay home for at least 5 full days after the onset of symptoms (or, if symptoms are not present, after the positive test).
  • If they have no symptoms or symptoms are lessening after 5 days, they can return to school and should wear a mask around others (indoors and outdoors) for an additional 5 days including participation in any extracurricular activities. Time without a mask being worn should be kept to a minimum.

For more details, refer to the New Jersey Department of Health Recommendations for K-12 Schools, Childcare, and Youth Camps.