TOMS RIVER, NJ – For most students across New Jersey, Friday represents the final day of Governor Phil Murphy’s school mask mandate for students, teachers, faculty, and visitors. On Monday, schools will return to normal with face-mask optional rules.

That’s because COVID-19 levels across the state and country are in rapid decline after a massive outbreak of the omicron variant of the virus in December and January that sent more people for vaccines and boosters and created a widespread natural immunity.

Regardless of vaccination status, masks will not have to be worn in public schools.

It might not be the last we’ve seen of the face masks. In the event of another future COVID-19 variant, the governor’s new guidelines allow for districts to reinstate mask mandates. Districts may also not ban the wearing of face masks.

According to those guidelines schools should bring back masking if a municipality’s CALI score (COVID-19 Activity Level Index) goes orange or red or if a local school outbreak is detected.

Masks could also now make a return in school sports if the community’s CALI score goes into yellow.

Governor Phil Murphy refused to move the school unmasking after the Centers for Disease Control announced healthy persons no longer need to wear face masks last week.

On the national level, Dr. Anthony Fauci, whose relevance is waning is still calling for Americans not to let their guard down and saying at some point, we can ‘get back to normal’.

“We are hoping—and I think we can accomplish this—to get the level of infection in the community so low that it doesn’t disrupt our lives,” said Fauci. “Doesn’t disrupt the economy, doesn’t prevent us from the normal interaction socially, going to the theater, going to a restaurant, doing things and we don’t have to worry about the danger of getting infected and getting seriously ill. We will reach that point. I promise you, it will be sooner rather than later.”

For some families and children, unmasking comes with a level of anxiety. Americans have been blasted by the state and federal government’s fear peddling that children could die if they unmask over the past two years and that message is etched in their minds.

Other children are expressing anxiety about showing their faces to other students and their teachers for the first time in nearly two years.

Others are excited about shedding the restrictive and now medically useless devices that have been a burden on them and their friends during the pandemic.