How some NJ schools are getting around mask mandate…for now
Governor Phil Murphy's mask mandate for all kids returning to school will be tested by the weather this week.
In the guidance issued by the New Jersey Department of Education, there is an exemption to the mask mandate for "extreme heat." However, the guidance does not define what "extreme heat" is.
In the state's Road Forward plan, schools are told they can make mask wearing optional for students when "the individual is exposed to extreme heat indoors."
Mask use is required for all individuals in indoor school settings (except) when doing so would inhibit the individuals health, such as when the individual is exposed to extreme heat indoors. - Excerpt from 'The Road Forward'
Temperatures are expected to be around 80 today, and in the mid-80's by midweek. Is that "extreme heat?" Many schools and classrooms have no air-conditioning and districts are being left to decide for themselves.
Some districts have already notified parents that mask wearing will be optional this week.
Lacey Township posted on Facebook masks are recommended in non-air-conditioned spaces, but will be optional through Friday.
Toms River school officials also said it is recommended students wear a mask, but it will be optional in non-air-conditioned spaces.
Several districts pushed back on the Murphy administration over the mask mandate, insisting the decision should be made on the local level. Murphy did not respond well to the criticism or what some viewed as open defiance of the mandate. He warned districts his administration would respond harshly to any district that was not in compliance with his mask orders.