Toms River school board asks Murphy to drop student mask mandate, here’s how the governor responded


TOMS RIVER, NJ – Toms River Regional School District Board President Joseph Nardini overseas one of the largest school districts in the state of New Jersey and this week he’s telling Governor Phil Murphy to stop requiring children to wear face masks in school.

“I write to you on behalf of the Toms River School Board in order to express the overwhelming opinion of my fellow board members and the tens of thousands of students and families who comprise this school district, which as you know is one of the largest in the state,” Nardini said in a letter to the Governor. “It is with respect and great hope for your sincere consideration that I request you repeal Executive Order 175 in time for the start of the 2021-2022 school year, and relieve our students, teachers, and staff members of the obligation to wear masks inside of school.”

Nardini also said that in a school setting, students should not be identifiable as vaccinated or unvaccinated in any way.

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“Additionally, I ask that there be no separation of students based on vaccination status. This request is submitted in good faith and with great respect for the science and data which drives national, state, and local regulations regarding Covid-19. Our board and school district is not “anti-mask” as a general matter of supposed principle,” Nardini said.

Today, Murphy responded to Nardini.

“Today is May 26th, we’re trying to figure out what school looks like in September,” Murphy said. “My guess is we’re likely to be masked.”

Nardini said the Toms River school district has been making sure teachers are vaccinated and that the district is following the state and CDC health guidelines.

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“We’re not there yet,” Murphy said, acknowledging COVID-19 has not affected the younger population as much as the elderly and immunocompromised.

“We’ve consulted with the Ocean County Health Department and followed all state guidance throughout this pandemic. We’ve gone above and beyond with measures including desk dividers, additional PPE, air purifiers and, of course, a mask mandate. We even installed a Covid Counter for full transparency on our website. At this point, however, and certainly projecting to September, we believe masks are unnecessary,” Nardinia said. “The vast majority of our staff have been fully vaccinated, and the risk that Covid-19 poses to our student population– many of whom will also be vaccinated heading into next year– is extremely low, and not inclusive of the more dramatic symptoms and health problems known to affect older adults. Please consider repealing Executive Order 175 in time for September, and restoring a sense of normalcy that will help us all breathe easier, literally and figuratively. Thank you, Governor Murphy, for your consideration of this request, and for your leadership throughout these trying times.”

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