This afternoon at 1 pm Gov. Phil Murphy will announce that he is ending the in-school mask mandate, effective March 7. The mandate began in September 2020 when schools reopened after closing in March 2020.
New Jersey is one of 11 states that have masks-in-schools mandates, which includes must Democratic-leading large school districts. Masks have become politicized, with GOP-led states (ex: Rob DeSantis of Florida and Gregg Abbott of Texas) banning in-school mask policies; some have attributed Murphy’s unexpectedly close victory in November–3 points over Jack Ciattarelli instead of the double digits projected—to strict Covid-19 regulations.
The New York Times reports today,
The debate over mask wearing in schools has proved one of the most divisive issues in the pandemic, embroiling parents, school boards, teachers and elected officials in caustic clashes over academic loss, protecting public health and individual choice. Mr. Murphy’s move follows a decision last month by the Democratic governor of Pennsylvania, Tom Wolf, to rescind his state’s school mask mandate. The Democratic governors of New York and Connecticut also said last week that they were re-evaluating school mask mandates that are soon set to expire.
Murphy’s announcement today leaves school district free to implement mask mandates on their own, but the loss of the mandate puts the onus on superintendents and school boards.
Leaders of the NJ Education Association, the state’s largest teachers union, have yet to release a comment.