Is it time for Gov. Phil Murphy to end weekly COVID-19 testing for school employees who are not vaccinated?
State Sen. Kristin Corrado (R-40) is an emphatic “yes.” The North Jersey lawmaker believes it is well past time the executive order put forth by the governor was ended, saying the tests were no longer necessary.
“Our society has changed because of COVID. We may have to live with the virus, but we no longer have to fear it,” Corrado stated.
Teachers Leaving the Profession
Corrado argued New Jersey school districts were currently contending with an alarming number of teachers leaving the profession. This has left school administrators scrambling to fill positions.
“It is time to eliminate the requirements and allow teachers and administrators to concentrate on helping students make up for COVID-related learning losses and helping them settle in with new teachers, new classrooms and classmates, and new academic challenges,” the Senator wrote.
Drop in Enrollment
This was backed up by New Jersey Policy Perspective, which reported the number of teachers in New Jersey had declined since the 2007-2008 school year. There were almost five people who completed teacher preparation for every 1,000 students in New Jersey in the 2007-2008 school year.
Today, there are barely two per 1,000 students.
The State Senator is sponsoring legislation (S-2250) that would remove the requirement for weekly testing, stating “this is one obstacle that can be easily removed.”
That said, it remains unclear whether the measure would make an appreciable difference of the current teacher shortage. As of November 2021, 84.9% of Garden State teachers at 2,081 K-12 school districts were fully vaccinated.
A National Issue
Sen. Bob Menendez Sen. Cory Booker have taken aim at the issue at the national level with the Respect, Advancement, and Increasing Support for Educators (RAISE) Act.
The act would give teachers between $1,000 and $15,000 via refundable tax credits, depending on the school district they work for.
The Senators noted teachers at the elementary and secondary level earn about 20% less than similarly-educated professionals.