Citing a continuing drop in new COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations due to the omicron variant, Gov. Phil Murphy on Feb. 7 said that the statewide school mask mandate will come to an end March 7.

“Masking continues to be an important tool to prevent the spread of COVID; it should be used in many circumstances,” Murphy said. “In the coming weeks, the Department of Health will also be updating … its guidance to help school districts make the best decisions as to whether and when masks should be worn.”

Murphy thanked the students, parents, educators and staff “who stood tall as role models ever since our schools returned to in-person instruction by wearing your masks day in and day out, without problem or protest.”

He added, “Any student, educator or staff member or visitor who chooses to continue masking up while indoors may freely do so. And we expect that schools will take swift disciplinary action against those who may try to demean or bully anyone who chooses to wear a mask.”

“AFTNJ is pleased that Gov. Murphy has extended the school mask mandate for another month, as buildings usually remain ‘buttoned up’ until the arrival of spring and warmer weather,” said AFTNJ President Donna M. Chiera. “We’re also pleased that he has given school districts across our state the authority to make their own decisions on masking based on the latest science and statistics. With an end to the school mask mandate in place, there is light at the end of the tunnel, and this puts students and staff one step closer to normalcy in New Jersey’s school buildings.”

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