COVID-19 Update: What School Districts Need to Know About Vaccination, Testing, & Quarantine

COVID-19 Update: What School Districts Need to Know About Vaccination, Testing, & Quarantine

Governor Murphy issued Executive Order 253, which requires all covered workers of school districts to either provide adequate proof that they have been fully vaccinated or submit to COVID-19 testing at least one to two times weekly...

On August 23, 2021, Governor Murphy issued Executive Order 253, which requires all covered workers of school districts to either:

(1) provide adequate proof that they have been fully vaccinated or

(2) submit to COVID-19 testing at least one to two times weekly.

The Executive Order requires that proof of vaccination be submitted by October 18, 2021.  If proof of vaccination has not been provided by that time, employees must submit to weekly testing starting that same week. 

In addition, the Executive Order clarified Executive Order 251, and provided that individuals seeking a medical exemption from mask wearing must produce written documentation from a medical professional in support of the request.  Executive Order 253 further provides that self-attestations and parental attestations are insufficient for mask exemptions.

The following FAQ briefly addresses some of the initial questions and concerns raised by Executive Order 253 and its implementation, including quarantine periods for employees. 

Please keep in mind that our guidance on this Order, as well as any other vaccination mandates that may be issued is constantly evolving.  We will continue to provide updates as needed. 

Should you have any other questions or want clarification on any of the issues below, please reach out to your Scarinci Hollenbeck attorney.

Frequently Asked Questions 

1. Who is subject to the vaccination/testing requirements imposed by Executive Order 253?

Executive Order 253 defines “covered workers” as all individuals employed by the covered setting, both full-time and part-time, including, but not limited to, administrators, teachers, educational support professionals, individuals providing food, custodial and administrative support services, substitute teachers, whether employed directly by a covered setting or otherwise contracted, contractors, providers, and any other individuals performing work in covered settings whose job duties require them to make regular visits to such covered settings, including volunteers. “Covered workers” do not include individuals who visit the covered setting only to provide one-time or limited duration repairs, services, or construction.

2. Does Executive Order 253 permit districts to impose a vaccination mandate, without providing the option of weekly testing?

Possibly.  Section 7 of Executive Order 253 provides that “Nothing in this Order shall prevent a covered setting from instituting a vaccination or testing policy that includes additional or stricter requirements, so long as such policy comports with the minimum requirements of this Order.  A covered setting may also maintain a policy that requires more frequent testing of covered workers.”

While the EO does not specifically indicate what “additional or stricter requirements” may be imposed, the statement issued by the Office of the Governor includes the following guidance:

This Order will not impact a school’s ability to impose more stringent vaccination or testing requirements on workers, including any requirement for more frequent testing, for testing of both vaccinated and unvaccinated staff, and for mandatory vaccinations without a testing alternative.  https://nj.gov/governor/news/news/562021/approved/20210823b.shtml

While the statement issued by the Governor’s Office appears to support the adoption of a policy eliminating the testing option entirely, a district’s ability to do so is not explicitly set forth in the Executive Order and therefore may be challenged. 

In the event that a district decides to pursue a vaccination-only mandate, it should be noted that a testing option must remain for those eligible for medical and religious exemptions.      

3. Can Districts require that employees be tested more than twice a week?

Yes. 
See Answer to Question 2, above.

4. What does it mean to be “fully-vaccinated?”

An individual is fully vaccinated two or more weeks after receiving (1) the single-dose vaccine or (2) the second dose of a two-dose vaccine.

5. What about a third “booster” dose?

Presently, the Executive Order requires only two doses for an employee to be considered fully-vaccinated.

6. Which vaccines are permitted under the Executive Order?

Employees may submit proof of having received any COVID-19 vaccination currently approved by the FDA or authorized for emergency use (EUA) in the United States and/or by the World Health Organization.

7. What counts as proof of vaccination?

The Executive Order requires covered workers to provide proof of vaccination status through submission of any one of the following documents:

  1. CDC Covid-19 vaccination card issued to the vaccine recipient by the vaccination site, or an electronic or physical copy of the same;
  2. Official record from the New Jersey Immunization Information System or other State immunization registry;
  3. A record from a health care provider’s portal/medical record system on official letterhead signed by a licensed physician, nurse practitioner, physician’s assistant, registered nurse or pharmacist;
  4. Military immunization or health record from the United States Armed Forces; or
  5. Docket mobile phone application record or any state specific application that produces a digital health record.

To be valid, proof of vaccination must include the administration date of each dose.

8. What if an employee supplies proof of vaccination that the District suspects is not accurate?

The employer has the right to question any documentation supplied by an employee regarding vaccination status.  If it is determined that the employee has misrepresented his/her vaccination status, it is considered an unauthorized use of a government document and is a crime.

9. Are Districts required to administer the testing themselves?

No.  Districts may offer on-site testing, or they may require employees to submit proof of a negative test performed elsewhere.

10. What tests are allowed?

Districts, whether merely requiring proof of vaccination or offering on-site testing, can accept either antigen or molecular tests that:

  • Have emergency use authorization from the U.S. FDA or
  • Are operating per the Laboratory Developed Test requirements by the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services 

11. Are unvaccinated workers required to submit to testing during weeks that the worker is not on site?

No.  The Executive Order does not require workers who are not on site in a given week to be tested during that week.

12. What if an employee submits a request for a religious exemption from testing, vaccination, and/or mask wearing?

Requests for religious exemption should be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.  Please work with your attorney to determine whether individual requests must be granted.

13. Who pays for workers’ tests?

The Executive Order does not require Districts to pay for the required weekly testing.  However, in his August 23, 2021 statement on the Executive Order, Governor Murphy noted that Districts electing to do so may use funds obtained from the federal Emergency and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) and Emergency Assistance for Nonpublic Schools (EANS) within the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief (GEER) funds.        https://nj.gov/governor/news/news/562021/approved/20210823b.shtml

14. Are Districts required to give employees paid time off for testing?

No.  The Executive Order does not require Districts to provide employees with PTO to obtain tests.

15. How long should employees quarantine for? 

COVID-19 TestVaccinated StatusSymptomaticQuarantine Period
PositiveApplies to fully vaccinated and non-vaccinated employeesIf positive COVID test, employee should quarantine irrespective of whether they experience symptomsVaries by local transmission level   Low or Moderate Transmission: 10 days (in absence of testing) from date of last contact   High Transmission: 14 days (in absence of testing) from date of last contact
NegativeApplies to fully vaccinated and non-vaccinated employeesNoNo quarantine required
NegativeApplies to fully vaccinated and non-vaccinated employeesYesQuarantine through 24 hours after fever has ended without the use of fever reducing medications and other symptoms improve
UnknownApplies to fully vaccinated and non-vaccinated employeesNoNo quarantine required
UnknownApplies to fully vaccinated and non-vaccinated employeesYesVaries by local transmission rate:   If low transmission, and no potential exposure in the last 14 days, refer to NJDOH School Exclusion Chart for symptom-specific quarantine periods   If (1) low transmission, and potential exposure in the last 14 days; (2) medium transmission rate; or (3) high transmission rate: quarantine at least 10 days from symptom onset and at least 24 hours from resolution of fever w/o fever reducing medications and improvement in symptoms

16. What if a staff member has been in close contact with an individual with COVID-19?

The NJ Department of Health defines “close contact” as being within 6 feet of someone with suspected or known COVID-19 for 15 or more minutes during a 24-hour period.    

However, the Department of Health has modified this definition for students in the context of an indoor K-12 classroom setting.  Students who were within 3-6 feet of an infected student are not considered to be in “close contact” where both students were correctly and consistently wearing a well-fitting mask.   

It should also be noted that this exclusion from being considered “close contact” does not include teachers, staff, or other adults in indoor classroom settings under the Department of Health guidelines.

Employee StatusQuarantine Period
Fully VaccinatedFully vaccinated persons who have close contact with someone with COVID-19 do NOT need to be excluded from school if they are asymptomatic but should be referred for testing 3-5 days after exposure.
Not Fully VaccinatedVaries by local transmission level:   Low or Moderate Transmission: 10 days (in absence of testing) from date of last contact; should be referred for testing 3-5 days after exposure   High Transmission: 14 days (in absence of testing) from date of last contact; should be referred for testing 3-5 days after exposure   If household member has COVID-19 compatible symptoms, staff member should quarantine until the symptomatic person receives a negative test.   If the symptomatic person tests positive, staff member should quarantine accordingly.
Diagnosed with COVID-19 in the past 90 days AND asymptomaticNo quarantine required, no additional testing required
Diagnosed with COVID-19 in the past 90 days AND symptomaticVaries by local transmission level   Low or Moderate Transmission: 10 days (in absence of testing) from date of last contact   High Transmission: 14 days (in absence of testing) from date of last contact   Should be referred for testing 3-5 days after exposure

Quarantine periods may be shortened if:

  • Staff member remains asymptomatic throughout the shortened quarantine period;
  • Staff member continues to monitor for symptoms through Day 14; and
  • Staff member is counselled to follow COVID-19 prevention recommendations through day 14 (i.e. masking, social distancing, etc.).

17. Is quarantine still required for domestic and international travel?

While CDC recommends the quarantine periods and testing protocols outlined in the chart below following domestic and international travel, travel-related quarantine is not mandatory and is left to the discretion of the District.

Vaccination StatusTravel TypeCDC Recommended Testing and Quarantine Period
Fully Vaccinated and/or recovered from COVID in the past 3 monthsDomestic (24 hours or more in states or territories other than those connected to NJ i.e. PA, NY, and DE)No post-travel testing or self-quarantine recommended; however, individuals should monitor for COVID symptoms and quarantine if symptoms develop
Fully Vaccinated and/or recovered from COVID in the past 3 monthsInternationalIndividuals returning to the US are required to get a viral test no more than 3 days before returning to the US and to show a negative result before boarding   Recommended testing 3-5 days after travel; if COVID positive, quarantine, if negative, self-monitor symptoms no quarantine required   If recovered from COVID in the past 3 months, no post-test travel required, unless symptomatic
UnvaccinatedDomestic (24 hours or more in states or territories other than those connected to NJ i.e. PA, NY, and DE)The CDC recommends that unvaccinated individuals get tested 1-3 days before the trip and 3-5 days after travel   Even if the post-trip test is negative, the CDC recommends a 7-day self-quarantine
UnvaccinatedInternationalIndividuals returning to the US are required to get a viral test no more than 3 days before returning to the US and to show a negative result before boarding   Recommended testing 3-5 days after travel; 7-day quarantine recommended, regardless of test results

18. Should remote instruction by the instructor in quarantine be permitted?

As with travel-related quarantine, and quarantine following a positive COVID test, Districts are not required to provide the option of remote work, but may do so if they choose.

Generally, there are three primary bases for which an employee would need to quarantine:

(1) travel-related;

(2) a positive COVID test; and

(3) coming into close contact with someone who has tested positive. 

While “The Road Forward” provides extensive guidance regarding when individuals should be required to quarantine, it does not provide any specific requirements regarding how or if employees should be compensated during such periods, nor does it specify whether quarantining employees should be permitted to work remotely. 

As such, discretion is left to the District.  The District may therefore elect to eliminate the option of remote work for all quarantining employees. If the needs of the District change as the school year progresses, and the District determines that it is in its interest to amend this policy, it may at that point reinstate the option of remote work for all employees or for specified categories of employees, so long as that decision is based upon a uniformly applied consideration of job duties. This would ensure that any such policy was able to withstand a potential challenge.

19. Can sick time be used for obtaining the vaccination, or if the employee suffers side effects following vaccination?

Per N.J.S.A. 18A:30-1, sick leave may be used “because of personal disability due to illness or injury, or because he or she has been excluded from school by the school district’s medical authorities on account of a contagious disease or of being quarantined for such a disease in his or her immediate household.” 

Therefore, employees may use sick time if they are suffering from vaccine side effects; however, they may not use sick time to get the vaccine.  However, this may vary as unions may have negotiated broader definitions of sick leave.  Districts should confer with their attorney to determine whether any collective bargaining agreements, employee handbooks, district policies, and/or individual contracts have modified the permissible uses of sick leave.

20. What, if anything, must be negotiated with unions regarding vaccination/testing?

The Appellate Division recently determined that vaccination mandates may be implemented without negotiating so-called “impact items” with the union as public employers have a duty to protect the health and safety of all its employees and the residents with whom those employees come into contact.  Please note that this caselaw is constantly evolving and may change should the union elect to pursue an appeal.


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AboutNathanya G. Simon

Nathanya Guritzky Simon plays a major role in the firm’s school board representation in all legal, labor and special education matters. She is best known for her handling of special education matters.Full Biography

AboutSarah A. Gober

Sarah A. Gober regularly represents school boards and municipalities in matters relating to labor & employment.Full Biography

AboutCaitlin P. Dettmer

Caitlin P. Dettmer works with private and public sector clients on both state and federal labor and employment issues. She also has experience handling intellectual property matters, including trademark registration and infringement issues.Full Biography

AboutMadelaine P. Hicks

Madelaine P. Hicks is a member of the firm’s Public & Education law practice group, where she focuses her practice on the representation of public sector and municipal clients in various Labor & Employment and Litigation matters.Full Biography

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COVID-19 Update: What School Districts Need to Know About Vaccination, Testing, & Quarantine

COVID-19 Update: What School Districts Need to Know About Vaccination, Testing, & Quarantine
Author: Nathanya G. Simon, Sarah A. GoberCaitlin P. DettmerMadelaine P. Hicks

On August 23, 2021, Governor Murphy issued Executive Order 253, which requires all covered workers of school districts to either:

(1) provide adequate proof that they have been fully vaccinated or

(2) submit to COVID-19 testing at least one to two times weekly.

The Executive Order requires that proof of vaccination be submitted by October 18, 2021.  If proof of vaccination has not been provided by that time, employees must submit to weekly testing starting that same week. 

In addition, the Executive Order clarified Executive Order 251, and provided that individuals seeking a medical exemption from mask wearing must produce written documentation from a medical professional in support of the request.  Executive Order 253 further provides that self-attestations and parental attestations are insufficient for mask exemptions.

The following FAQ briefly addresses some of the initial questions and concerns raised by Executive Order 253 and its implementation, including quarantine periods for employees. 

Please keep in mind that our guidance on this Order, as well as any other vaccination mandates that may be issued is constantly evolving.  We will continue to provide updates as needed. 

Should you have any other questions or want clarification on any of the issues below, please reach out to your Scarinci Hollenbeck attorney.

Frequently Asked Questions 

1. Who is subject to the vaccination/testing requirements imposed by Executive Order 253?

Executive Order 253 defines “covered workers” as all individuals employed by the covered setting, both full-time and part-time, including, but not limited to, administrators, teachers, educational support professionals, individuals providing food, custodial and administrative support services, substitute teachers, whether employed directly by a covered setting or otherwise contracted, contractors, providers, and any other individuals performing work in covered settings whose job duties require them to make regular visits to such covered settings, including volunteers. “Covered workers” do not include individuals who visit the covered setting only to provide one-time or limited duration repairs, services, or construction.

2. Does Executive Order 253 permit districts to impose a vaccination mandate, without providing the option of weekly testing?

Possibly.  Section 7 of Executive Order 253 provides that “Nothing in this Order shall prevent a covered setting from instituting a vaccination or testing policy that includes additional or stricter requirements, so long as such policy comports with the minimum requirements of this Order.  A covered setting may also maintain a policy that requires more frequent testing of covered workers.”

While the EO does not specifically indicate what “additional or stricter requirements” may be imposed, the statement issued by the Office of the Governor includes the following guidance:

This Order will not impact a school’s ability to impose more stringent vaccination or testing requirements on workers, including any requirement for more frequent testing, for testing of both vaccinated and unvaccinated staff, and for mandatory vaccinations without a testing alternative.  https://nj.gov/governor/news/news/562021/approved/20210823b.shtml

While the statement issued by the Governor’s Office appears to support the adoption of a policy eliminating the testing option entirely, a district’s ability to do so is not explicitly set forth in the Executive Order and therefore may be challenged. 

In the event that a district decides to pursue a vaccination-only mandate, it should be noted that a testing option must remain for those eligible for medical and religious exemptions.      

3. Can Districts require that employees be tested more than twice a week?

Yes. 
See Answer to Question 2, above.

4. What does it mean to be “fully-vaccinated?”

An individual is fully vaccinated two or more weeks after receiving (1) the single-dose vaccine or (2) the second dose of a two-dose vaccine.

5. What about a third “booster” dose?

Presently, the Executive Order requires only two doses for an employee to be considered fully-vaccinated.

6. Which vaccines are permitted under the Executive Order?

Employees may submit proof of having received any COVID-19 vaccination currently approved by the FDA or authorized for emergency use (EUA) in the United States and/or by the World Health Organization.

7. What counts as proof of vaccination?

The Executive Order requires covered workers to provide proof of vaccination status through submission of any one of the following documents:

  1. CDC Covid-19 vaccination card issued to the vaccine recipient by the vaccination site, or an electronic or physical copy of the same;
  2. Official record from the New Jersey Immunization Information System or other State immunization registry;
  3. A record from a health care provider’s portal/medical record system on official letterhead signed by a licensed physician, nurse practitioner, physician’s assistant, registered nurse or pharmacist;
  4. Military immunization or health record from the United States Armed Forces; or
  5. Docket mobile phone application record or any state specific application that produces a digital health record.

To be valid, proof of vaccination must include the administration date of each dose.

8. What if an employee supplies proof of vaccination that the District suspects is not accurate?

The employer has the right to question any documentation supplied by an employee regarding vaccination status.  If it is determined that the employee has misrepresented his/her vaccination status, it is considered an unauthorized use of a government document and is a crime.

9. Are Districts required to administer the testing themselves?

No.  Districts may offer on-site testing, or they may require employees to submit proof of a negative test performed elsewhere.

10. What tests are allowed?

Districts, whether merely requiring proof of vaccination or offering on-site testing, can accept either antigen or molecular tests that:

  • Have emergency use authorization from the U.S. FDA or
  • Are operating per the Laboratory Developed Test requirements by the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services 

11. Are unvaccinated workers required to submit to testing during weeks that the worker is not on site?

No.  The Executive Order does not require workers who are not on site in a given week to be tested during that week.

12. What if an employee submits a request for a religious exemption from testing, vaccination, and/or mask wearing?

Requests for religious exemption should be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.  Please work with your attorney to determine whether individual requests must be granted.

13. Who pays for workers’ tests?

The Executive Order does not require Districts to pay for the required weekly testing.  However, in his August 23, 2021 statement on the Executive Order, Governor Murphy noted that Districts electing to do so may use funds obtained from the federal Emergency and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) and Emergency Assistance for Nonpublic Schools (EANS) within the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief (GEER) funds.        https://nj.gov/governor/news/news/562021/approved/20210823b.shtml

14. Are Districts required to give employees paid time off for testing?

No.  The Executive Order does not require Districts to provide employees with PTO to obtain tests.

15. How long should employees quarantine for? 

COVID-19 TestVaccinated StatusSymptomaticQuarantine Period
PositiveApplies to fully vaccinated and non-vaccinated employeesIf positive COVID test, employee should quarantine irrespective of whether they experience symptomsVaries by local transmission level   Low or Moderate Transmission: 10 days (in absence of testing) from date of last contact   High Transmission: 14 days (in absence of testing) from date of last contact
NegativeApplies to fully vaccinated and non-vaccinated employeesNoNo quarantine required
NegativeApplies to fully vaccinated and non-vaccinated employeesYesQuarantine through 24 hours after fever has ended without the use of fever reducing medications and other symptoms improve
UnknownApplies to fully vaccinated and non-vaccinated employeesNoNo quarantine required
UnknownApplies to fully vaccinated and non-vaccinated employeesYesVaries by local transmission rate:   If low transmission, and no potential exposure in the last 14 days, refer to NJDOH School Exclusion Chart for symptom-specific quarantine periods   If (1) low transmission, and potential exposure in the last 14 days; (2) medium transmission rate; or (3) high transmission rate: quarantine at least 10 days from symptom onset and at least 24 hours from resolution of fever w/o fever reducing medications and improvement in symptoms

16. What if a staff member has been in close contact with an individual with COVID-19?

The NJ Department of Health defines “close contact” as being within 6 feet of someone with suspected or known COVID-19 for 15 or more minutes during a 24-hour period.    

However, the Department of Health has modified this definition for students in the context of an indoor K-12 classroom setting.  Students who were within 3-6 feet of an infected student are not considered to be in “close contact” where both students were correctly and consistently wearing a well-fitting mask.   

It should also be noted that this exclusion from being considered “close contact” does not include teachers, staff, or other adults in indoor classroom settings under the Department of Health guidelines.

Employee StatusQuarantine Period
Fully VaccinatedFully vaccinated persons who have close contact with someone with COVID-19 do NOT need to be excluded from school if they are asymptomatic but should be referred for testing 3-5 days after exposure.
Not Fully VaccinatedVaries by local transmission level:   Low or Moderate Transmission: 10 days (in absence of testing) from date of last contact; should be referred for testing 3-5 days after exposure   High Transmission: 14 days (in absence of testing) from date of last contact; should be referred for testing 3-5 days after exposure   If household member has COVID-19 compatible symptoms, staff member should quarantine until the symptomatic person receives a negative test.   If the symptomatic person tests positive, staff member should quarantine accordingly.
Diagnosed with COVID-19 in the past 90 days AND asymptomaticNo quarantine required, no additional testing required
Diagnosed with COVID-19 in the past 90 days AND symptomaticVaries by local transmission level   Low or Moderate Transmission: 10 days (in absence of testing) from date of last contact   High Transmission: 14 days (in absence of testing) from date of last contact   Should be referred for testing 3-5 days after exposure

Quarantine periods may be shortened if:

  • Staff member remains asymptomatic throughout the shortened quarantine period;
  • Staff member continues to monitor for symptoms through Day 14; and
  • Staff member is counselled to follow COVID-19 prevention recommendations through day 14 (i.e. masking, social distancing, etc.).

17. Is quarantine still required for domestic and international travel?

While CDC recommends the quarantine periods and testing protocols outlined in the chart below following domestic and international travel, travel-related quarantine is not mandatory and is left to the discretion of the District.

Vaccination StatusTravel TypeCDC Recommended Testing and Quarantine Period
Fully Vaccinated and/or recovered from COVID in the past 3 monthsDomestic (24 hours or more in states or territories other than those connected to NJ i.e. PA, NY, and DE)No post-travel testing or self-quarantine recommended; however, individuals should monitor for COVID symptoms and quarantine if symptoms develop
Fully Vaccinated and/or recovered from COVID in the past 3 monthsInternationalIndividuals returning to the US are required to get a viral test no more than 3 days before returning to the US and to show a negative result before boarding   Recommended testing 3-5 days after travel; if COVID positive, quarantine, if negative, self-monitor symptoms no quarantine required   If recovered from COVID in the past 3 months, no post-test travel required, unless symptomatic
UnvaccinatedDomestic (24 hours or more in states or territories other than those connected to NJ i.e. PA, NY, and DE)The CDC recommends that unvaccinated individuals get tested 1-3 days before the trip and 3-5 days after travel   Even if the post-trip test is negative, the CDC recommends a 7-day self-quarantine
UnvaccinatedInternationalIndividuals returning to the US are required to get a viral test no more than 3 days before returning to the US and to show a negative result before boarding   Recommended testing 3-5 days after travel; 7-day quarantine recommended, regardless of test results

18. Should remote instruction by the instructor in quarantine be permitted?

As with travel-related quarantine, and quarantine following a positive COVID test, Districts are not required to provide the option of remote work, but may do so if they choose.

Generally, there are three primary bases for which an employee would need to quarantine:

(1) travel-related;

(2) a positive COVID test; and

(3) coming into close contact with someone who has tested positive. 

While “The Road Forward” provides extensive guidance regarding when individuals should be required to quarantine, it does not provide any specific requirements regarding how or if employees should be compensated during such periods, nor does it specify whether quarantining employees should be permitted to work remotely. 

As such, discretion is left to the District.  The District may therefore elect to eliminate the option of remote work for all quarantining employees. If the needs of the District change as the school year progresses, and the District determines that it is in its interest to amend this policy, it may at that point reinstate the option of remote work for all employees or for specified categories of employees, so long as that decision is based upon a uniformly applied consideration of job duties. This would ensure that any such policy was able to withstand a potential challenge.

19. Can sick time be used for obtaining the vaccination, or if the employee suffers side effects following vaccination?

Per N.J.S.A. 18A:30-1, sick leave may be used “because of personal disability due to illness or injury, or because he or she has been excluded from school by the school district’s medical authorities on account of a contagious disease or of being quarantined for such a disease in his or her immediate household.” 

Therefore, employees may use sick time if they are suffering from vaccine side effects; however, they may not use sick time to get the vaccine.  However, this may vary as unions may have negotiated broader definitions of sick leave.  Districts should confer with their attorney to determine whether any collective bargaining agreements, employee handbooks, district policies, and/or individual contracts have modified the permissible uses of sick leave.

20. What, if anything, must be negotiated with unions regarding vaccination/testing?

The Appellate Division recently determined that vaccination mandates may be implemented without negotiating so-called “impact items” with the union as public employers have a duty to protect the health and safety of all its employees and the residents with whom those employees come into contact.  Please note that this caselaw is constantly evolving and may change should the union elect to pursue an appeal.