In response to a new guidance from the New Jersey Department of Health that requires K-12 students and staff participating in sports and other extracurricular activities in high-Covid areas to be vaccinated, Assemblyman Christopher DePhillips (R-Wyckoff) released a statement sharply criticizing the policy.
“Taking away school sports and extracurricular activities from children who are Covid negative and have already sacrificed so much these past two years is harmful, irresponsible and completely misguided,” DePhillips said.
The Bergen County assemblyman went on to imply that, because one-third of recent positive cases were among the vaccinated, requiring vaccines is not an effective strategy to stop the spread of Covid. However, according to the New York Times’ vaccine tracker, 71% of all New Jersey residents are fully vaccinated, meaning the unvaccinated or partially vaccinated are still vastly overrepresented among positive cases.
“Instead of benching and punishing kids who are not fully vaccinated, we should be encouraging participation in extracurricular activities, because we know how beneficial it is to a student’s physical and mental health and their development and success,” DePhillips said. “Our children’s best interests must be safeguarded, not exploited.”
DePhillips’ broadside is one of many coming from Assembly Republicans in recent days as the omicron variant spreads and the pandemic nears the end of its second full year. Yesterday, a number of Republican legislators blasted Gov. Phil Murphy’s attempt to extend his Covid-related emergency powers, and a long-simmering battle over the statehouse’s vaccine-or-test mandate may come to a head once again during next week’s legislative voting session.
This story was updated at 1:58 p.m. to correct an error: One-third of cases are among the vaccinated, not among the unvaccinated.