Gov. Phil Murphy announced today that he is ending the long-standing mask mandate for New Jersey schools. The news, first reported by The New York Times, comes from an administration official who says the mandate that requires all students, staff and visitors to schools to wear face coverings will end March 7. The end to the mask mandate includes preschools, daycare and colleges. Individual school districts will be able to set their own rules regarding masks. Newark Public Schools, the largest school district in NJ has already announced that they will continue to require masks in school even after the state mandate ends. Schools will not be able to ban masks, meaning that students who choose to continue to wear them may do so.

The change comes as Murphy tries to return NJ to a state of normalcy. The mask requirement was put into place in September 2020, even before many schools had reopened. The announcement came at today’s weekly COVID-19 briefing and was also posted on Instagram and other social media channels. Murphy has previously said he thought there was a “real shot” that the mask mandate would end before the school year was up.


Parents are divided on whether kids should mask up in schools.

On New Jersey Family’s Facebook page, comments on the news included one person saying, “It’s about time to end this craziness finally.” On the other end of the spectrum, another commentor wrote “I believe it is to early to end the mass mandate.”

Some parents wondered why the date March 7 was chosen.

“So sick of this! Why are we waiting till March 7?? Us parents need to end this now!!”

Another commentor was frustrated by the announcement.

“So I guess the immunocompromised or medically vulnerable teachers and kids (and families) just don’t matter. With such low vaccination rates for kids (and no vaccination requirement in sight), why remove the one line of defense that is helping to mitigate the spread of this virus? Very disappointed in Governor Murphy.”

Others had a more moderate view.

“Murphy has done a great job following the science, so I trust him on this too.”

Many parents want children to continue to wear masks in light of the recent Omicron surge while others question their effectiveness and want kids to get back to a normal school setting. Others worry about younger children who are not yet vaccine eligible being in a school setting with no masks. New cases of COVID have dropped since the surge.

Currently, masks are not mandated in private businesses in NJ but are required in hospitals and state offices.

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