NJEA cheers Murphy mask mandate, says masks needed until there’s a vaccine for children under 12

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The New Jersey Education Association has applauded Governor Phil Murphy’s mask mandate for K-12 schools this September and went further, urging parents to vaccinate their children and even

“We support the Murphy Administration’s decision to follow public health guidance and require masking for students and staff in public schools as the new school year begins. It is the prudent, responsible course of action in the face of the resurgence of COVID-19 across the state,” said NJEA’s officers, President Marie Blistan, Vice President Sean M. Spiller and Secretary-Treasurer Steve Beatty in a statement. “This is not what anyone hoped for to begin this school year. However, we cannot waver in our commitment to protecting the health and safety of students and staff as the COVID-19 pandemic is surging. Above all, we remain committed to providing our students with the best possible educational experience this year. They deserve it and we are determined to make sure they have it.”

The NJEA blasted and blamed unvaccinated New Jerseyans for their decision.

“While we wish the situation was different in New Jersey, we have to act based on facts today. Those facts point unambiguously toward the need to continue masking and other safety precautions in our public schools,” the NJEA said. “It is especially disappointing to know that, had our vaccination rate been higher going into this school year, New Jersey might well have escaped the latest surge and these safety measures might not be necessary.”

The NJEA hinted this latest mask mandate in the school system might not end until all children are vaccinated, even those who there is no currently approved vaccination as of yet.

“The evidence is overwhelming that vaccines are safe and highly effective at slowing and preventing the spread of COVID and at reducing the severity of the rare breakthrough cases. There is no better way to protect our school communities, including those students not yet eligible for vaccination, than for all who are eligible and medically able to get vaccinated,” the NJEA statement said. “We look forward to vaccines being approved for younger children so that more of our public school population can be protected. By coming together as a community and acting in the best interests of our children and fellow New Jersey residents, we have the power to change the trajectory of this pandemic and return more quickly to the normalcy we all crave.”

So when will it end? Maybe not until 2023.

U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy this week said he is hopeful that a vaccine for children under 12 will be approved by the end of the 2021-22 school year. Then, it could take months, if at all to roll out the vaccine as many parents in that demographic have extreme vaccine hesitancy and anxiety.

Relatively few children under 16 have been vaccinated according to the state Department of Health.