O’Scanlon says Murphy giving up mask mandate is scientifically justified

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Election night event hosted by New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy in Asbury Park

From the Desk of New Jersey Senator Declan O’Scanlon

TRENTON, NJ – Senator Declan O’Scanlon, following up on the Governor’s way overdue decision to end mask mandates, called for Governor Murphy to drop all other unnecessary and destructive mandates and guidelines such as quarantine requirements for healthy school children. This after Middletown Public Schools successfully demonstrated that eliminating quarantines had no negative impact on in-school transmission. Further, in the face of clear scientific evidence, the Governor’s announcement of mask mandate removal should happen today, not in March.

“This mask mandate announcement is obviously in response to the scientifically-justified, consistent pressure so many of us have been inflicting for months,” said O’Scanlon (R-Monmouth). “This action—over a policy that was dubious from the start and shown to be outright foolish and destructive months ago—is already long overdue. And it is very clearly not the only mandate removal that is long overdue.”

What else is happening in New Jersey?

“Quarantining is a nice way to say ‘banning healthy children from attending,’” O’Scanlon continued. “Forcing healthy, asymptomatic kids to stay home after suspected exposures hasn’t reduced transmission in our schools. Instead, it’s cost our kids thousands of unrecoverable school days and precious experiences. Middletown has successfully demonstrated that schools can remain safe while minimizing missed days for students and maximizing the quality of education delivered to our children. Every school district across New Jersey
should follow this example.”

On December 14, Middletown Public Schools removed the quarantine requirement for exposed students essentially making testing to stay at the purview of parents. Low and behold, it worked. Parents of New Jersey are perfectly responsible and capable of creating and maintaining a healthy situation for their children. In the four weeks prior to eliminating quarantines, which included two holidays, the district had 340 new cases. In the four weeks following the elimination of quarantines, they had 222 new cases and zero increase in the
percentage of new cases relative to the township (click here for chart with statistics).

“The hard evidence, the real-world experience we’ve seen clearly – in other states and here in our district – shows all of these quarantine policies should be discarded in the pursuit of the best overall health and wellness policies for our children,” said O’Scanlon.

Middletown Schools still adhere to other mandates pertaining to masking requirements and staff testing. But evidence clearly shows these mandates ought to be discarded too.

“There is no justification to wait another month to remove masking. The science is clear right now. Whether some children can tolerate extensive masking or not, masks, in every objective study provide no benefit in a school setting and impinge on the quality of education & our children’s overall mental health & well-being. Why are we, yet again, dragging our feet right to the very end. This administration has been quick and severe in implementing restrictions…and behind the curve and indecisive when rolling back restrictions.”

“Regarding testing, mandated testing to stay in school was, at one point, believed to be an effective compromise to avoid excessive quarantines,” said O’Scanlon. “However, in the face of Middletown’s success, we find it’s unnecessarily expensive, burdensome, and makes no difference in the severity of outbreaks.”

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O’Scanlon continued, “The administration, as it has throughout the pandemic, failed to signal any clear metrics or timetable for the end of continued, unjustifiable restrictions. It’s a pattern at this point…adopt the hardest line restrictions, justify perpetuating them with nightmarish – and wildly inaccurate – predictions, and then drag their feet on relaxing or eliminating the restrictions beyond the timeframes of virtually every other state. The Murphy administration has been consistently late to the party and reluctant to seek out or accept dynamically changing facts. Assessing good & bad policy is their job, but they’ve proven time and again incapable of recognizing facts & policy that contradict their previously held misperceptions, which has cost our residents, businesses, and our children dearly throughout the pandemic.”

“There has never been a moment more worthy of ‘meeting the moment’ than right now. Our case counts are plummeting, parental frustration is high, and kids are aching to get back to normal. The Governor should strike a blow for sanity and declare today that he is lifting all restrictions—immediately. At the very least he should be ready to say, today, that he won’t seek an extension of the public health emergency. By every metric, there is no justification for an extension.”

“Lastly, the administration should not only applaud Middletown’s policies but should actively work to encourage and help all school districts to adopt Middletown’s model. It has worked, it’s proven safe, it virtually eliminates quarantines and maximizes the quantity and quality of education for the district’s children. All children of New Jersey should adopt their model. And all students should be allowed to get back to normal with the lifting of mask restrictions as well.”