State issues

New Jersey governor ending school mask mandate: report

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy (D) will reportedly lift the mask requirement in state schools for both students and employees in March.

The New York Times reported that the mandate in New Jersey schools will end in the second week of March, roughly two years after the pandemic began.

One week ago, Murphy he signaled that his state will need to “learn how to live” with the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We’re not going to manage this to zero. We have to learn how to live with this,” Murphy said of the pandemic on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” 

According to local news outlet NJ.com, 102,237 students and 28,583 school staff members have been infected this school year through the week ending Jan. 30. 

The reported move to end the statewide mandate in New Jersey comes after federal officials approved the COVID-19 vaccine for children as young as 5 years old and Pfizer said it has begun applying for authorization for its COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 6 months to 4 years.

Cases in the U.S. have fallen drastically from the peak during the omicron wave in mid-January, from approximately 800,000 new cases per day to about 350,000 per day, which is still quite high. 

Murphy’s office did not immediately respond to The Hill’s request for comment.

In Pennsylvania, Gov. Tom Wolf (D) will allow school districts to modify or end mask mandates for K-12 students starting on Jan. 17. 

“Unfortunately, the COVID-19 virus is now a part of our daily lives, but with the knowledge we’ve gained over the past 20 months and critical tools like the vaccine at our disposal, we must take the next step forward in our recovery,” Wolf said in December when he announced the changes. 

Murphy’s reported decision also comes at a time when pandemic fatigue is high among the U.S. population. A recent poll by Monmouth University found that a large majority of Americans, 70 percent, agreed that “it’s time we accept that Covid is here to stay and we just need to get on with our lives.” 

Tags Phil Murphy Tom Wolf

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