Not all NJ schools will lift school mask mandate
Not all school districts will allow kids and staff members to remove their masks.
Gov. Phil Murphy announced on Monday that he was lifting his executive order requiring masks to be worn in all school buildings on March 7. Districts, however, still have the option to require them as part of local policy.
The state's largest district has already announced they will still require students and staff to mask up.
Newark schools will keep the mask mandate in place in school buildings or anywhere on school grounds. A district spokeswoman told NJ.com that "we are maintaining our protocols."
Newark has among the toughest anti-COVID mandates in the state, including a vaccination requirement to enter most businesses.
The Plainfield school district also announced they will continue to require masks for students and staff.
While some districts could opt for continuing a mask policy, many are likely to simply make it optional.
A letter to parents in the Manalapan-Englishtown district said it would "continue social distancing as a mitigation strategy," but would make masks optional as of March 7.
The Absecon district also notified parents that masks would be optional as of March 7.
Mount Olive schools Superintendent Rob Zywicki, who has been one of the most vocal critics of the governor's school COVID policies, told New Jersey 101.5 that his district will also make masks optional.
Zywicki had advocated strongly for masks to be optional at the start of the school year, and says he "is thrilled" with the governor's decision because it is what is best for kids.
Masking kids has been one of the most controversial policies of the Murphy administration, and has prompted a series of protests around the state and at local school board meetings.
Murphy tweeted his thanks to parents, students and staff that have complied without incident.
Zywicki suspects politics factored into Murphy's decision, saying it was a political "hot potato" and "undesirable to keep it going."
Murphy justified the delay in lifting the mask mandate by saying more people would be vaccinated and boosted by March 7 and projections showed COVID metrics falling even farther.
On Monday, the state reported just another 1,490 positive COVID tests. On Jan. 7, more than 30,000 positive tests were reported.
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