Federal law dictates students must continue to mask up on school busses, even after NJ school mask mandate expires

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TOMS RIVER, NJ – Although school districts across New Jersey will be opting out of mandatory masking as of March 7th, students in those districts must continue to wear face masks on school busses. That is, unless a federal mandate set a year ago by President Joe Biden expires.

That mandate requires the masking of all passengers on public transportation across America.

“The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued an Order  on January 29, 2021, requiring the wearing of masks by travelers to prevent the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19.  Conveyance operators must also require that all persons wear masks when boarding, disembarking, and for the duration of travel, with certain exemptions as described in the Questions below. The Order defines “conveyance” as including “aircraft, train, road vehicle (including rideshares), vessel…or other means of transport, including military transport,” the Biden order says.

Unless President Biden rescinds that order by March 7th, that applies to school busses too. That order currently expires on March 18th but has been consistently renewed since going into effect last year.

It’s unlikely that the Biden administration will change course on the decision after the administration, the CDC and Dr. Anthony Fauci all agreed it’s too early to unmask children.

According to the order, school bus operators, including operations by public school districts, and their passengers are required to wear masks as defined by the Order issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).  The CDC Order provides limited exemptions to the mask requirement for certain small categories of individuals, including: children under the age of 2; persons with disabilities who cannot wear a mask, or cannot safely wear a mask because of a disability as defined by the Americans with Disabilities Act (42 U.S.C. 12101 et seq.); and persons for whom wearing a mask would create a risk to workplace health, safety, or job duty.

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In an FAQ concerning the CDC Order, the CDC states that passengers and drivers on school buses must wear a mask unless the driver is the only person on the bus.  This requirement applies to all school buses whether publicly or privately owned.