Students will not be required to wear masks in school this fall unless their local district mandates it, Gov. Phil Murphy said in his press conference Monday. The news comes following the New Jersey Department of Health (NJDOH) and New Jersey Department of Education (NJDOE) announcing that all districts will be required to provide full-time, in-person learning with no remote option.
“The recommendations we are releasing today will provide school districts with a roadmap to bring students and staff back to safe, enriching school environments,” Murphy said in the press conference. “This guidance will help districts and educators develop plans to meet their student’s educational, social, emotional and mental health needs. Our students and educators have displayed amazing resiliency during the pandemic, and I am pleased that the upcoming school year will provide a sense of normalcy that students haven’t had since March 2020.”
In May, Murphy had said he expected that students and teachers would still be masked when school started in the fall. Students who are comfortable wearing masks will be allowed to do so, said the governor.
On Twitter, the announcement from Murphy was loud and clear: “Masking by students will not be mandatory in school buildings unless their district decides to require masking as part of its own protocols.”
Most parents celebrated the news as another step in the return to normalcy, while others worried about variants of the virus and bemoaned a lack of remote learning options.
“Absent any dramatic change in our situation before the beginning of the school year, masking by students while in their school buildings will NOT be mandatory – unless a school district requires masking as part of its own protocols,” the governor expounded on Twitter.
The NJ Department of Education also released recommendations on a safe return to school.