New Jersey private career schools are permitted to open for in-person instruction beginning on July 1, 2020, pursuant to Executive Order No. 155. Schools must create a restart plan that complies with the requirements outlined in the Order below, and must post the plan online and provide to students and staff prior to resuming in-person operations.
Under N.J.S.A. 34:15C-10.1 and N.J.A.C. 12:41, the Department of Labor and Workforce Development (NJDOL) and the Department of Education (NJDOE), the agencies empowered to issue Certificates of Approval to private career schools and empowered to suspend or revoke those certificates, are jointly responsible for ensuring, among other things, that each private career school is clean, well-maintained, providing good ventilation, and in compliance with all state and municipal health codes. In this time of the COVID-19 global pandemic, that responsibility includes ensuring that a private career school is operating in compliance with: guidance from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and other relevant federal agencies; guidance from the NJDOL, New Jersey Department of Health (NJDOH), NJ State Police and other relevant State agencies; and with the Governor’s Executive Orders. This document seeks to distill from those sources some of the immediate steps that private career schools should take to ensure the safety and health of their students and staff. Please be mindful that return to school policies may change as scientific information on infection control practices and spreading patterns of COVID-19 evolves.
The most up-to-date return to school protocols are provided by NJDOH at:
Every private career school that is re-opening for in-person instruction is expected to undertake the following measures, at a minimum:
I. INFECTION CONTROL
• Perform health screenings for faculty, staff, students, and visitors.
• Private career schools may not admit staff or students into the facility who feel sick or exhibit symptoms common to COVID-19, including fever or chills, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fatigue, muscle or body aches, headache, new loss of taste or smell, sore throat, congestion or runny nose, nausea or vomiting, and diarrhea. Schools must send home immediately any staff or students who begin to feel sick or exhibit symptoms common to COVID-19 and should follow recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to determine when those individuals may return to classes.
• Provide individuals who are immunocompromised or at high risk for COVID-19 with the option to receive instruction remotely.
II. PHYSICAL DISTANCING
• Enforce social distancing in classrooms, workstations, laboratories, clinical settings, and student seating areas through the school.
• Provide for smaller class sizes, and space desks and student seating areas throughout the facility six feet apart where feasible.
• Consider staggering start, break, and end of class periods, or alternating scheduled class days to reduce crowding at facility and classroom entryways.
III. CLOTH FACE COVERINGS
• Require all faculty, staff, students, and visitors to wear cloth face coverings except where doing so would inhibit the individual’s health.
• Provide information to staff and students on proper use, removal, and washing of cloth face coverings.
• Please refer to the CDC’s guidance on Childcare, Schools, and Youth Programs for additional information on face coverings.
IV. CLEANING AND DISINFECTION
• Clean and disinfect classrooms and common areas after each usage.
• Disinfect high-touch areas like desktops, light switches, doorknobs, etc. periodically throughout the day.
• Provide top-to-bottom cleaning of the facility at least daily.
• Refer to the CDC’s Reopening Guidance for Cleaning and Disinfecting Public Spaces, Workspaces, Businesses, Schools, and Homes for additional information on cleaning and disinfection.
• When an individual is suspected or confirmed to have COVID-19, private career school is to close off areas visited by the ill person, open outside doors and windows and use ventilating fans to increase circulation in the area, and wait 24 hours or as long as practical (during which time the facility should not be open to students or staff), and then conduct cleaning and disinfection as directed by the CDC’s Cleaning and Disinfection for Community Facilities guidelines.
V. HAND HYGIENE
• Maintain adequate equipment and supplies for staff and students to wash and sanitize hands periodically.
• Place stations with hand sanitizer with 60 percent or more alcohol content at all building entry points and throughout the facility.
• Provide students and staff adequate break time to wash hands regularly.
VI. EDUCATION AND TRAINING
• Provide training for students regarding COVID-19, including topic such as sanitization, hand hygiene, and social distancing practices and protocols as a condition for resuming in-person instruction.
• Provide training for faculty and staff on appropriate sanitization, hygiene and social distancing standards, and regarding the school’s restart plan protocols.
• Display CDC hand hygiene posters and other “How to Protect Yourself and Others” materials in English, Spanish, and other languages as needed.
• Consider methods to get fresh air to individuals and properly utilize ventilation system. Some ways to do so include:
‒ Maximizing fresh air through your ventilation system;
‒ Maintaining relative humidity at 40 to 60 percent;
‒ Ensuring restrooms are under negative pressure;
‒ Asking a HVAC professional and reviewing American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) updates for more information; and
‒ Considering the use of portable HEPA filtration units.
VIII. COLLABORATION WITH HEALTH OFFICIALS
• Collaborate with local and State officials, including local health departments and local office of emergency management to share reopening plans and revise those plans as necessary.
• Establish testing guidance and contact tracing protocols in consultation with local health officials and in line with existing State and federal health privacy statutes and regulations, at minimum, such protocols should include a mechanism to maintain a log of students, faculty, staff, and visitors to facilitate contact tracing and the reporting of any instances of COVID-19 to local health officials.
IX. SPECIAL GUIDANCE FOR LABS, TECHNICAL, AND CLINICAL PROGRAMS
Private career schools with labs, technical, and clinical programs should observe the CDC and NJDOH public health standards for personal protective equipment (masks or face shields as appropriate), physical distancing, sanitizing equipment, hand-washing, cleaning and disinfection, and exclusion of individuals with symptoms or a positive diagnosis of COVID-19.
• The Road Back: Restoring Economic Health Through Public Health
• State of New Jersey: COVID-19 Information Hub
• Center for Disease Control: Social Distancing Guidance
• New Jersey Department of Health: Information for Communities and the General Public
• New Jersey Department of Health (DOH) Local Public Health Directory
• Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Testing for COVID-19
• Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Symptom Checker
• New Jersey Department of Health: COVID-19 Information for Schools
• State of New Jersey: Executive Orders