Pressure on Murphy to rescind mask mandate for schools

Murphy: ‘We don't want to have kids or everyone in a school setting with masks on any longer than we have to’

As Gov. Phil Murphy has continued to ease pandemic-related restrictions in New Jersey, one setting where he says masks will be required to stay in place at least for now is schools. Criticism over that mandate is growing among some parents, educators and legislators.

Assemblyman Greg McGuckin (R-Ocean) is drafting a bill that would prohibit any school, private or public, from mandating that students wear masks.

Explaining the rationale for maintaining the mandate in schools, Murphy said Wednesday, “We only, a couple weeks ago, have been able to get 12- to 15-year-olds vaccinated. There’s no vaccine yet that’s approved for under the age of 12. We don’t want to have kids or everyone in a school setting with masks on any longer than we have to. But if we think we have to do it to safely and responsibly get them back to school, we will do it,” Murphy said Wednesday.

Marie Blistan, President of the New Jersey Education Association, which represents more than 200,000 members from classroom teachers to school nurses, stands by the governor. “We rely on medicine and on the science, which is exactly what the governor has done all along, and we’re thankful he has continued to put the public health and students’ safety first and that has been our number one priority,” Blistan said. 

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