BOE Candidates on Vaccine Mandates for Staff and Mask mandates for students [Yoni Bak]

This is a guest post from reader and group member Yoni Bak.

Vaccine Mandates and Mask Requirements

I reached out on facebook to the candidates for BOE about their positions on vaccine mandates for staff and mask mandates for students. I asked in a neutral way to try & get their honest opinions. Presented without comment are the responses I received from Victoria FisherLori FeinYassine S. Elkaryani & Rachel Schiffman Secemski.


Victoria Fisher:
I support vaccine requirements and mask requirements. Half measures aren’t getting us back to normal. We need to do everything reasonably available to us so we can get this over with as quickly as possible.
[YB: Victoria Fisher how does the rest of the BOE feel about that? Are you going to institute a vaccine mandate for September?]
the Superintendent may make a recommendation or a policy could be formulated for the board to vote on. Superintendent could make a unilateral decision. At this point, there is not enough time between now and September 9th to institute a requirement. However, multiple clinics have been made available exclusively to the school staff and community, and per the last update the Board received in June, the vaccination rate is much higher than the state average.
Lori Fein:
I’m glad you ask and I will need to reflect before giving a public answer. My priority is getting kids back to live school, full schedule, with as few restrictions as possible to allow safety. This is a challenging issue that requires us to balance controversial scientific and social issues, including taking the pulse of our parent body, faculty and larger community, and I need more data before recommending a certain course of action. I am cautiously optimistic that masks may not need to be required, and certainly see the educational and social costs of masking which must weigh in our decision. I am very pro-vacc and convinced of the safety, while at the same time I do not think those opposed should be vilified for their decision, as we are all navigating uncharted terrain. Happy to speak further.
As you probably know, Gov. Murphy mandated masks in NJ. So no choice for now.
Opinion | The Case Against Masks for Children
Persuasive article for when Murphy lifts the ban.
[YB: So then you *oppose* mask mandates, correct?]
Not exactly. So far the data seems to weigh against, and I would advocate that way rn, but I always rely on best data available, which is subject to change. I prioritize in person instruction above all other issues right now.
I should say, w would if Murphy lifts the statewide mandate & leaves it up to district.
Yassine S. Elkaryani:
The priority for us is to open the schools so that our kids do not have another year of lost learning. Either way, the mandates would normally come from the state and it becomes our responsibility to abide by them and not cloud the state’s decision with political debates on social media; the noise can create miscommunication and lack of trust in the process. I would encourage every politician to engage in promoting the school opening process. All in all, we have to do what it takes to open the schools as soon as possible.
[YB: Thank you. I also asked Darryl & didn’t hear back. Doesn’t seem like he’s on facebook much. Can you ask him to respond as well?]
That’s our joint response
We’re bracketing
We are the Leadership, Learning, and Loyalty team
Rachel Schiffman Secemski:
Hi! Sorry for the delayed response. The Governor has now mandated masks in the classroom in September. Although I am disappointed and understand the challenges some families face with getting their child to feel comfortable in a mask, I am looking forward to taking any and all actions to ensure our kids are in person in September for the first day of school.
The post may be updated if any other responses come forth