Starting the second week of March, New Jersey will end the mask mandate for public schools, as announced by Democrat Governor Phil Murphy. As reported by the New York Times, the termination of the mandate will apply to students and school employees.
Murphy’s decision emerges on the heels of another Democrat governor’s decision, as Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf also recently declared that he would be eliminating school mask mandates across his state.
Since September 2020, when most schools resumed classes after lockdowns, students in New Jersey schools have faced mandatory mask mandates. New Jersey was one of only eleven states in the nation that had such a policy in effect for public schools.
The New Jersey governor declared that the policy change was specifically timed for March due to the anticipated rise in temperatures, which would permit schools to have other options for ensuring safe ventilation of classrooms and other school facilities.
However, Murphy warned that mask mandates may be reimplemented if coronavirus cases begin to increase again.
In contrasts to states with Democrat governors, states with Republican governors have taken a different approach to mandatory masks in schools.
In some cases, mask mandates in public schools have been banned, which has resulted in some school districts attempting to fight back against Republican administrations in court. In Florida, Governor Ron DeSantis has notoriously faced backlash from more liberal school districts, some of which openly defied his orders.
Significant controversy has ensued over the topic of mask mandates in general. Numerous Republican contenders for the 2022 midterms have harnessed the frustration of the parents regarding mask mandates in schools into effective campaigns against Democrats in advance of the elections.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has long argued that individuals who wear masks indoors while in public spaces will face a lower probability of contracting the coronavirus.
However, doctors have pointed out a downside to the ongoing mask mandates in schools, including the strong correlation between masks and mental health strain. In addition, viewing a full face is oftentimes a necessary part of the educational experience, especially in terms of learning how to read.