Gov. Murphy: ‘There’s a Chance’ Schools Won’t Have Mask Mandates for 2021-22 Academic Year

By: Kaitlyn Kudriavetz, Follow South Jersey Child Welfare Intern

SOUTH JERSEY — New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy is optimistic that “there’s a chance” for the mask mandate to be dropped for students when the new school year begins in the fall.

After a tour of Bergenfield High School with U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona on June 2, Gov. Murphy expressed optimism about the potential for students to return to school without having to wear masks in the fall.

“Three months from now might as well be five lifetimes in a pandemic,” he said. “So the answer is: Absolutely. Our minds are open.”

This statement from Gov. Murphy comes after he ended the indoor and outdoor mandates in most places on May 28. However, schools and summer camps were listed as an exception to the mask mandate being lifted as there are no vaccines for children under the age of 12 at this time.

Gov. Murphy even revised this further on June 7, when it was announced that students and teachers are allowed to go maskless in schools during cases of extreme heat. He then went on to allow individual school districts to make their own decisions about student mask requirements, asking that they use their best judgement.

With mask requirements for students still up in the air for the fall, Cardona said that in-person learning is “not negotiable” for the upcoming academic year.

“While I’d like to predict we’re going to be able to reopen schools without masks in the fall, I’m gonna lean on my health expert partners … to make sure we maintain that level of confidence that’s needed to reopen our schools to make sure health and safety drive our decisions,” Cardona said.

This article was produced by a Follow South Jersey news intern thanks to a grant provided by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation through the New Jersey Health Initiatives program to create hyper-local news to meet the informational and health needs of the City of Bridgeton, N.J.