New Jersey will end mask mandate in schools in March

February 7, 2022

Image courtesy of Josue Lora/NJ Governor’s Office on Flickr

New Jersey’s school mask mandate that’s been in effect since September 2020 will end March 7, Gov. Phil Murphy announced on Monday. The state mandate required all students, staff, and visitors to wear face coverings while inside New Jersey school facilities. School districts can choose to keep the mandates in place, but the statewide requirement will be lifted. The mandate’s removal comes as positive tests and hospitalizations have dropped significantly statewide and the rate of vaccinations continues to rise.

Murphy last extended New Jersey’s mask mandate on January 11 as the state was experiencing a surge in cases and hospitalizations due to the Omicron variant. However, cases proved to drop as fast as they rose, and weeks later Murphy revisited the idea of dropping the mandate altogether.

“Effective March 7, the statewide mask mandate in schools will be lifted. Balancing public health with getting back to some semblance of normalcy is not easy. But we can responsibly take this step due to declining COVID numbers and growth in vaccinations,” Murphy tweeted on Monday.

In a press briefing, Murphy touched on the state’s increasingly low number of cases linked to in-school transmission. According to Murphy, “since the beginning of the school year, there have been roughly 2,650 student COVID cases linked directly to in-school transmission out of more than 1.4 million students.”

In the briefing, Murphy explained the reasoning behind the March date. “Early March traditionally means the weather starts to warm up which will gives schools a little bit more flexibility to increase ventilation.”

Murphy on Monday also agreed with some parents on remote learning being detrimental to children’s education. The governor referred to remote learning as an “inadequate substitute” to holding classes in-person.

Around this time last month, New Jersey was recording an average of more than 30,000 positive COVID-19 tests a day. Since then, the numbers have dropped to a tenth of what they once were.

As New Jersey lifts its mask mandates, the attention turns to New York. While the state currently has no intention of lifting its mask mandate which requires the use of masks in all New York schools, it will continue to “closely monitor both coronavirus case counts and vaccination rates for younger residents,” according to the New York Times.


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More: Policy
Location: New Jersey

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