TOMS RIVER, NJ – Across New Jersey on Monday, children went to school with the option to not wear a face mask for the first time since the global COVID-19 pandemic began.
On Friday, Governor Phil Murphy’s two-year-long COVID-19 emergency health order expired, ending state mandate indoor mask requirements for public schools, colleges, and daycare centers.
New Jersey Republican Assemblyman Brian Bergen celebrated the news, “It was so wonderful to send my children to school today with no masks. I feel awful though for children in the Democrat-controlled towns.”
Several Democrat-controlled cities in the state opted to keep their students masked up.
Newark, Paterson, Trenton, New Brunswick, East Orange, Plainfield, Hillside, and South Orange-Maplewood, disadvantaged cities with high populations of low income and minority students, are continuing to enforce citywide school mask mandates even as the presence of COVID-19 in the community have diminished significantly over the past month.
“Today, we have an incredibly long overdue but huge win for New Jersey parents and their children,” said New Jersey Senator Michael Testa. “We finally unmasked our kids.”
Now, unwilling to abide by the guidance and science from the Centers for Disease Control, the New Jersey Department of Health, and Governor Phil Murphy, those cities will continue to enforce in-school masking rules.
A bold message continued to greet visitors at the Newark School District’s website, “Masks are required at all times when entering district facilities, locations, and properties.”
“Mask mandate remains in place for all students and staff,” the Paterson School District reminded parents and students.
“On Monday, March 7, masks will continue to be worn at all Plainfield Public Schools. The District will continue to require that students and staff wear masks in all buildings,” the Plainfield Public School District said in a statement to students and faculty today.
Under Governor Murphy’s guidance, local school districts may continue to enforce school mask mandates.
Students who wish to continue wearing face masks may do so, according to the Governor’s office and the governor and State Police Superintendent Patrick Callahan said they will aggressively monitor cases of bullying, harassment, and intimidation regarding face masks in schools.