NJEA Statement on Masking in Schools

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NJEA officers President Sean M. Spiller, Vice President Steve Beatty and Secretary-Treasurer Petal Robertson released this statement following Governor Phil Murphy’s announcement today that he has the intention to end the statewide masking mandate in schools on March 7, based on current COVID trends in New Jersey:

“We are encouraged by the data showing a rapid decline in COVID transmission in New Jersey. For this reason, we are cautiously optimistic that the current statewide school mask mandate can be safely relaxed in the near future, assuming current trends continue.

“As we have said since the start of the pandemic, it is essential to follow the data and listen to public health experts when implementing or removing COVID protocols. To date, this data is moving strongly in the right direction, and we look forward to additional public health guidance supporting the abandonment of mandatory masking in schools.

“We urge Governor Murphy to continue to analyze the data and do whatever is necessary to best protect the health and well-being of students and staff. This includes the possibility of maintaining or reimposing the mask mandate for schools after March 7 if the data indicates it is the right course.

“It is appropriate that Governor Murphy authorize local districts to continue to require masking in communities where it is prudent based on local conditions. We also urge Governor Murphy to direct the Department of Health to provide clear guidelines and metrics to local districts to use when deciding whether or not to continue mandatory masking based on local conditions.

“In addition, we continue to urge all eligible people to get vaccinated. Clearly, the more people who are immunized in our school communities, the safer everyone in those communities will be. It’s also the best way to prevent a resurgence of COVID that could lead to the need to reinstate protocols, such as masking, that we’re on the verge of being able to move past.

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