NJ students will be 'strongly encouraged' to wear masks for 2020-2021 school year

New Jersey's K-12 students will be encouraged to wear masks when they return to in-person instruction this fall, state officials announced Friday.

"Throughout our school facilities, all faculty and staff and all visitors will be required to wear face coverings unless doing so would inhibit individual health as per [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] recommendations," Gov. Phil Murphy (D) said at a press conference. "Students will be strongly encouraged to wear face coverings and will be required to do so when social distancing cannot be maintained, whether that be in the classroom or in the hallways."

The sweeping health guidelines are a part of the reopening report put together by New Jersey's education officials that outlined everything that must be done to ensure that in-person instruction is as safe as possible amid the pandemic. One of the main goals of the guidelines is to keep students six feet apart as much as possible.

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State guidelines will mandate in-person teaching of some form, though individual schools can develop a mix between in-person and remote learning that works best for them.

“This is an unprecedented time for our students and educators, but we are pleased to announce that we anticipate the return to our classrooms in some capacity this fall,” Murphy said. “The return to school will pose challenges, but we are confident that New Jersey’s school districts can move forward in a way that best serves the needs of their district while also achieving a safe environment for students and staff.”

Many states have said that they plan to have their students return to the classrooms in the fall, though most are still in the process of figuring out what safety measures will be in place.