New Jersey school district blasted for reinstating mask mandate for staff, students: 'Plain cruel'

The CDC reported Passaic among 10 counties that reached 'high' community levels of COVID-19 in New Jersey

A New Jersey school district was blasted for reinstating its mask mandate starting Wednesday due to rising COVID-19 cases.

Passaic Public Schools Superintendent Sandra Montanez-Diodonet sent out a letter to parents and staff on Tuesday stating that masks are required effective Wednesday for "all employees, Pre-K through grade 12 students, and visitors are required to wear face coverings in all district facilities, school grounds, and buses."

"Please be advised that as per our Board Policy No. 5141.10, during periods of High Activity Level as published in the NJDOH COVID-19 Activity Level Report, mask-wearing is required," read the letter, which was shared by what appears to be the school district’s Twitter account.

Students prepare to enter the building of Stratford Landing Elementary School in Alexandria, Virginia, on Aug. 23, 2021.

Students prepare to enter the building of Stratford Landing Elementary School in Alexandria, Virginia, on Aug. 23, 2021. (Amanda Andrade-Rhoades/For The Washington Post via Getty Images)

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The letter came after state health officials and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Passaic being among 10 counties that reached "high" community levels of COVID-19 in New Jersey.

Furthermore, the state reported 2,207 COVID-19 cases and 28 confirmed deaths on Tuesday, the highest number of fatalities reported in a single day since Feb. 16.

Passaic Public Schools, one of New Jersey’s largest school districts, presides over approximately 14,000 students and 17 schools, including Passaic High School.

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The statewide mask mandate was lifted by Gov. Phil Murphy in March. Murphy had recently told a local news outlet that he does not "foresee any mandates in New Jersey unless something drastically changes."

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy speaks during an election night event at Grand Arcade at the Pavilion on November 2, 2021 in Asbury Park, New Jersey. New Jersey residents went to the polls Tuesday to vote in the gubernatorial race where Murphy faced off against Republican challenger Jack Ciattarelli.

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy speaks during an election night event at Grand Arcade at the Pavilion on November 2, 2021 in Asbury Park, New Jersey. New Jersey residents went to the polls Tuesday to vote in the gubernatorial race where Murphy faced off against Republican challenger Jack Ciattarelli. (Mark Makela/Getty Images)

The backlash against the mask reinstatement came in droves under the post's Twitter thread.

"Two weeks to slow the spread has turned into 2.75 years to flatten a generation," American Federation for Children Senior Fellow Corey DeAngelis replied to the tweet.

"I like that they’re public about the child abuse," Twitter user Nicholas Austin said.

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"This is anti-science, anti-child & just plain cruel. #Shame on ‘educators’ who impose restrictions on children’s learning, socialization & joy just because they can," Twitter user Maud Maron, a Democrat who ran for Congress, replied on the thread.

Twitter user Jen Wright replied, "Parents, this is your queue to WITHDRAW and create a homeschool co-op over Christmas break. Schools like this see your kids as disease vectors. Protect your children, that’s your most important job."

Passaic Public Schools, one of New Jersey’s largest school districts, presides over approximately 14,000 students and 17 schools, including Passaic High School.

Passaic Public Schools, one of New Jersey’s largest school districts, presides over approximately 14,000 students and 17 schools, including Passaic High School. (iStock)

"For two years, parents witnessed the detrimental social effects that masks had on their children’s lives — which included difficulty building relationships with others because of an inability to read facial expressions, as well as generalized anxiety regarding crowds and proximity to others (to say nothing of the impact on educational achievement, such as reading and language comprehension problems)," Parents Defending Education said in a statement to Fox News Digital. 

"Families are still dealing with the fallout from these policies, and will be doing so for years to come — so for districts across the country to yet again unilaterally impose mask mandates on suffering children defies logic. Different families have different levels of risk tolerance, and should anyone desire to have their children masked, they should be free to do so — but certainly not mandated."

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The superintendent's press office did not immediately respond to Fox News Digital's request for comment.