This week, face masks are back. After several weeks of the Centers for Disease Control guidance that said anyone who is fully vaccinated from the COVID-19 virus is now at risk if they live in an area with a high rate of infection. That area includes about 60% of the United States according to the CDC COVID-19 data released this week.
Here in New Jersey, it means 8 counties would have to mask up for school in the fall because they are considered to be high or moderate risk areas.
What did the CDC say about requiring face masks in public schools this fall?
“In areas with substantial and high transmission, CDC recommends fully vaccinated people wear masks in public, indoor settings to help prevent the spread of the delta variant, and protect others. This includes schools,” CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said. “Including teachers, staff, students and visitors, regardless of vaccination status.”
What is the status of face masks in public school in New Jersey this fall?
Here in New Jersey, Governor Phil Murphy just said both vaccinated and unvaccinated New Jerseyans should once again start wearing face masks indoors.
“Following yesterday’s announcement by @CDCgov regarding masking, @NJDeptofHealth Commissioner Persichilli and I strongly recommend that both vaccinated and unvaccinated residents wear masks in indoor settings when there is increased risk,” Murphy tweeted today. “We reserve the right to take more drastic action, including a statewide mask mandate.”
As of today, in New Jersey, Governor Murphy said that the decision to require face masks in school in September for children and teachers remains a decision to be made at the local level.
Will Governor Murphy change his mind if the CDC changes its guidance?
Murphy has unequivocally said he will change the state’s status before the school year if the CDC guidance says it should.
“Updated CDC guidance on masking in this setting is expected prior to the start of the 2021-2022 school year and will factor into the final recommendations from the State for masking this fall,” the Murphy administration said earlier in July. “However, barring a significant change in health metrics, school districts will be able to determine masking policies at the local level. Regardless of the district’s policy on masking, schools cannot prevent students or staff from wearing masks if they choose. “