Governor Murphy teases on lifting school mask mandate, but don’t count on it

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TRENTON, NJ – As New Jersey begins to emerge from the other side of a month-long pandemic peak, due to the highly contagious, but mild omicron variant of the COVID-19 virus, Governor Phil Murphy hinted that the school mask mandate could be lifted in numbers continue their downward trend.

In an interview with PIX11 this morning, when asked if he would lift the mandate, Murphy said he may lift that mandate before the end of the school year.

“I think there’s a real shot of that,” Murphy said confidently when asked by PIX11’s Dan Mannarino if he foresees a time by the end of the year where masks are not seen in schools anymore. “I don’t mean this calendar year. You’re speaking about the school year that ends in June. I think there’s a real shot of that.”

Murphy will have to contend with pressure from the NJEA, the state’s largest teacher’s union who has been pushing to keep students masked up throughout the pandemic.

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The NJEA this week congratulated Murphy after beginning his second term in office, due to his commitment to the needs and wants of the union.

“We will continue to be strong advocates for students, families, and educators as we work together to emerge from this pandemic. We appreciate Gov. Murphy’s demonstrated respect for educators and his willingness to let practitioners lead on education policy decisions. We will continue to speak up for the policies and practices that we know work for our students,” the NJEA said in a statement.

It wouldn’t be the first time during the pandemic where the governor offered the public hope from coming out from beneath his heavy-handed pandemic mandates. Throughout the pandemic, the governor has offered to reverse course on many mandates and executive orders, only to dive deeper into them as COVID-19 numbers ebb and flow.