Following New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy’s recent mandate that all school employees either be vaccinated or receive weekly COVID-19 testing to return to work, Law360 spoke with Weiner Law Group partner Stephen J. Edelstein Department Chair of the firm’s Education Law group, about whether this will affect lawyers working with NJ school districts.
Mr. Edelstein’s remarks are excerpted here – the full article by Nick Muscavage can be accessed on Law360 (subscription required):
Stephen J. Edelstein, a partner at Parsippany-based Weiner Law Group who practices in the firm’s education law group, said the mandate is “fact-sensitive.”
The executive order, he said, defines employees of the school district as covered workers.
“Some school districts have in-house counsel, people who are actually employees,” he said. “It applies to them for sure.”
However, the order also includes contracted workers, he said.
“At that point, it becomes a sort of fact-sensitive analysis because the executive order says it includes contractors whose duties require them to make regular visits to the covered setting, which would include school buildings, but it does not include individuals who only have to come in on a limited basis,” he said.
For example, a special education attorney providing legal services to a district who visits the school regularly to meet with staff and parents may fall under the vaccine mandate, Edelstein said.
Like Rubin and Moore, Edelstein also said an attorney who does not visit a school regularly will likely not be affected.
“If you go to one board meeting a month, you are almost like a member of the public in terms of the frequency, and you would probably not be covered,” he added. “If you’re an employee, then for sure, but if you’re an outside contractor like most of us are, I think that it’s fact-sensitive.”
Although Edelstein said he sees the order as “pretty straightforward,” attorneys who are planning to do work for a school in the near future should familiarize themselves with its language because the effects of coronavirus and the government’s response to curb the virus are still ongoing.
“I’m no public health expert, but from what I read in the papers, it’s not likely to end anytime soon,” he said.
Stephen J. Edelstein