“The teachers are now becoming mask police,” says one child-care center executive. Others claim Gov. Phil Murphy’s recent executive order mandating masks for visitors, staff and kids from ages two and up will cause big problems for an already struggling industry. “I’m expecting a huge backlash,” one said. Another reported eight parents have already pulled their kids from his centers over the mask issue.
The governor also ordered staff at all New Jersey child care centers to be fully vaccinated by Nov. 1. But “most are in that 55-60% range, in terms of number of staff that are vaccinated,” said a representative of the Early Childhood Education Advocates after polling members. Short-staffed centers say more mandates could drive away desperately needed teachers. The industry wants Murphy to move faster and disburse $700 million in American Recovery Plan federal pandemic aid earmarked specifically for child care centers.