Updated: Aug 3, 2022
Since we took office this January, our commitment to residents’ rights of personal wellness and choice has been a priority, opposing all coronavirus testing and vaccination mandates, particularly in our schools. Recently we renewed our call for Governor Murphy to restore a sense of normalcy for our children and to support our teachers by ending these unnecessary executive orders.
In March, the Murphy administration dropped the mask mandate without any health consequences. The vaccination rate among teachers is at least 85%, and for older children ages 12 to 17, the vaccination rate is about 74%. Still, all public and private school employees must submit at least weekly COVID-19 tests or be fully vaccinated.
Forcing unvaccinated students and teachers to undergo mandatory weekly or twice-weekly testing is amongst the most nonsensical and unnecessary of Murphy’s orders. Not to mention bares a heavy fiscal burden and is blatantly discriminatory.
The cost of testing weighs especially heavy on teachers. One constituent educator alone has been charged $5,000 in testing fees. Multiplied by the countless educators, faculty, and staff affected by the mandate, the result is a needless tax on the unvaccinated. How is this affordable or acceptable?
The Center for Disease Control and the medical community has also clarified that teachers and students are still contracting and spreading COVID regardless of their vaccination status. It makes no sense to constantly test the unvaccinated yet require no testing for the vaccinated.
Additionally, we are faced with a dire shortage of good teachers and a massive drop in young adults seeking a career in education. New Jersey’s high-quality education system is being compromised by forced mandates threatening the quality of our student’s education. Particularly in math, science, and special education.
To adequately address the teacher shortage, we must consider why people choose to retire or leave the profession. The Murphy administration’s remote learning and school shutdown orders are at least somewhat responsible for the mass exodus of educators. Not to mention the unnecessary edTPA testing requirement, which we voted to eliminate. But most importantly, we must stop discriminating against them over their personal health decisions.
Educators, teachers, and support staff should receive credit for New Jersey’s high-quality education system and not be punished for making personal choices regarding their health. It is time that the Murphy administration stops mandatory weekly testing and lets students learn, and teachers teach.
Yours in service,
Kim and Marilyn