TRENTON, NJ – The New Jersey Education Association is in a fit this week after the union learned that Phil Murphy’s request to keep children in public schools indefinitely trapped behind a face mask is in jeopardy of being rejected.
The governor’s school mask mandate is at risk of expiring on Tuesday which would position Murphy to declare another COVID-19 state of emergency this weekend, into Monday.
Instead, lawmakers are reportedly working on a 45-day extension for the pandemic power-hungry governor as both Democrats and Republicans are heading into an important 2022 midterm that could end up giving Republicans a powerful election platform for the congressional midterms.
Earlier this evening, public reports indicated that Senate President Steve Sweeney is unwilling to include an extension to the mask mandate currently in place in New Jersey’s public schools as part of a resolution before the Legislature to reauthorize certain COVID safety measures that are otherwise set to expire on Tuesday, Jan. 11.
“We are appalled at the idea that any member of the New Jersey Legislature would fail to support an extension of the mask mandate in our public schools that has helped protect students and staff during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. At a time when cases are surging and schools across New Jersey are struggling to remain open for in-person instruction, it is beyond irresponsible to let that vital safety measure lapse when it is supported by health, science, and common sense,” NJEA President Sean M. Spiller said in a statement. “Under current conditions, legislators should be looking for every opportunity to protect students and staff and help ensure that they can learn in the safest possible environment despite the staggering number of COVID cases New Jersey is experiencing. It is educational malpractice to ignore public health experts and to allow this important protection to lapse.”
As resentment against teacher’s unions grows across the United States, a movement is also growing against the union here in New Jersey as political alignment with the NJEA could spell political suicide for state assemblymen and legislators heading into the 2023 assembly election after Republicans gained seats in the 2021 red wave.
Alignment with the NJEA could spell doom for Democrats in the state assembly as parents call for an end to the mask mandate in public schools.
“Throughout this pandemic, we have called on the state and local school districts to follow the guidance of public health experts, which overwhelmingly recommends masking as a critical COVID-prevention measure. The failure to include this basic step to protect children would be dangerous, irresponsible, and demonstrates a callous disregard for the health of the students and staff of New Jersey’s public schools,” the NJEA said. “We call on Senate President Sweeney and Assembly Speaker Coughlin to step up and lead on this critical issue by ensuring that New Jersey’s school masking mandate stays in place until public health officials agree that it can safely be modified or removed. Until then, it is up to the 120 members of the New Jersey Legislature to join Gov. Murphy in ensuring that our schools are as safe as possible for all students and staff.”
In the end, Democrats could also be playing the blame game and by rejecting Murphy’s request, positioning the governor to declare a new state of emergency in which Democrat lawmakers will be able to distance themselves from the governor and the union.