UPDATE: On March 1, Gov. Phil Murphy is expected to announce expanded COVID-19 vaccine eligibility beginning on March 15 for prekindergarten to 12th-grade educators and support staff, as well as child care, transportation and additional public safety workers. 

BELMAR/LAKE COMO, NJ — Belmar and Lake Como Boards of Education have gone on the record asking Gov. Phil Murphy to add public school district employees to its priority list for the coronavirus vaccine.

Each board at its February 25 virtual meeting approved a resolution supported by the New Jersey School Board Association that urges the state to open eligibility of the vaccine to school district personnel. While considered “essential workers” under the state’s COVID-19 vaccination plan, Murphy has not committed to when they can begin to sign up to receive their shots — if they don’t fall into another group already meeting the vaccination eligibility criteria.

“School district staffs at all levels are essential to the day-to-day operations of this district, responsible for the thorough and efficient education of all students and their social and emotional well-being, are critical for virtual and in-class instruction and are essential workers,” according to the resolution.

Currently, vaccines are available to health care workers, first-responders, residents of long-term care facilities, individuals beginning at age 65, individuals age 16 through 64 with certain medical conditions and smokers.

While those groups represent 4 million New Jerseyans, nearly 1.3 million first doses of the vaccine have been administered and another 664,000 second doses — for a total reaching 2 million, according to the state’s latest COVID-19 Data Dashboard

The school boards’ requests come as state officials continue to encourage school districts to return or expand in-person instruction. Belmar Elementary School (BES) officials are looking to bring back full-day classroom instruction after its April spring break. Currently, most students are coming to school for half-day sessions, five days a week, while the others have opted for full remote learning.

In other reopening news, Belmar School Superintendent David Hallman announced that Monmouth County Athletic League baseball and softball will return this year, after COVID-19 forced their seasons to be canceled last year. A shortened basketball season, to be played outside, is also likely for this spring, he said.

Under its comprehensive Restart and Recovery Plan, BES started the school year with hybrid instruction — with the majority of students receiving a blend of classroom and remote learning until October 12 when classroom instruction began. Since then, the school has been closed several times due to coronavirus exposures — placing students in a full remote schedule during those times.

Click here for the entire BES Restart and Recovery Plan.

For more information, email the school district at restart@belmar.k12.nj.us.

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