PATERSON, N.J. (PIX11) – Teachers and parents enjoy seeing those smiling faces when students return from winter break, but due to a rise in cases of COVID-19 and the spread of the flu and RSV, masks are back in Paterson schools. 

District Superintendent Eileen Shafer said her decision was aimed at doing everything possible to keep students and staff safe in classrooms.

“We want to have a teacher in every classroom in front of the students because we know that that is how education is best implemented,” Shafer said on Tuesday.

Shafer said their health director advises her, and she also receives reports each day from St. Joseph’s Medical Center. 

“They’re telling me what’s happening in the city of Paterson and in Passaic County, and then I have my own data that we collect every week that we report to the state,” she added.

Other districts, like Passaic and Camden, have also brought back mask mandates. Shafer said 87 percent of Paterson’s school district staff is vaccinated for COVID-19, but Mayor Andre Sayegh told PIX11 News that, citywide, he sees fewer people getting boosted than he would like.

“We’re looking for boosters and children getting vaccinated,” Sayegh said Tuesday on PIX11 Morning News. “So… we’re going to have to re-energize our team and double down on our efforts to get children vaccinated and promote the booster.”