So we finally have an answer about what our kids' school year will look like in the fall. It turns out that students in New Jersey will not be required to wear masks inside. Of course the individual district can still mandate mask-wearing for the 2021-22 academic year so check with your school to see what their policy is. So how does this make you feel? Are you relieved? Does this make you want to continue home school? As a mom, I do have one concern after this announcement...

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There will be some kids that still choose to wear a mask either for health reasons or otherwise and I have this sinking feeling that those kids will be singled out by the others and made fun of for it.  I hope teachers and staff are huddling before the year beings to be proactive about that kind of thing and stop it before it starts.  I've seen with my own two eyes the unspoken bullying that still goes on in a "zero tolerance" bullying world. Kids are smart, and they have learned to bully in subtle ways that on paper are not punishable.  Kids leaving kids out or low-key ostracizing them is real...all we need nowadays is one more difference to separate kids from one another.  I'm just saying, before they go back there is some training in order on this issue.

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Don't think it will be an issue?  Just look at how the parents fight over it!  Don't you think the kids hear us and how we feel?  They learn from our every move and they think whatever their parent says on the topic is right.  Personally, I was happy to hear that the mandate was lifted and that kids had the choice to go mask free, I think a choice is totally appropriate now that vaccines are available. I have to say though, when the New Jersey Department of Health (NJDOH) and New Jersey Department of Education (NJDOE) announced the updated health and safety guidelines for the upcoming school year I was surprised to learn that all the districts will be required to provide full-time, in-person learning with no remote option. I guess I thought the remote option would always be there for the families that wanted it, especially for kids with compromised immune systems.

There will be new protocols and systems in place to help our districts meet all of the kids' different needs so this is really a time to take a deep mask-less breath (if you so choose), as well as a leap of faith that we are getting back to some kind of normal. Gov Murphy did say that anyone who is more comfortable wearing masks will be able to, again, I just hope there is a clear unified message from the top down on the first day from teachers and staff to the kids about acceptance for everyone's decision to be with or without a mask.

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