Reaction to Gov. Phil Murphy’s announcement that the mask mandate in New Jersey schools will be lifted starting March 7 has been generally positive and supportive from officials representing school administrators and teachers.

Sean Spiller, the president of the New Jersey Education Association, said the NJEA is pleased to see the COVID numbers moving in the right direction.

“If the science continues to trend in that way and the numbers continue to show that’s the appropriate course of action come the 7th, then that’s where we should go," he said. "If anything changes, of course, we know that all options should be on the table.”

Rich Bozza, the executive director of New Jersey Association of School Administrators, said the governor’s announcement about dropping the mask mandate will be a big step towards re-establishing some degree of pre-pandemic normalcy.

“I would suspect that the overwhelming majority if not all districts would accept that masking in schools will now become voluntary as we get past that March 7th date,” he said.

Up to individual school districts

Bozza also said the governor’s decision to leave masking policies up to each individual school district makes sense because “he has given the opportunity to districts to say the science is still guiding us and that wearing a mask would now be optional for kids in schools."

Spiller agreed it makes sense to give individual school districts the ability to make their own decisions.

“We’ve seen it before: different parts of the state have had different rates of transmission or other pieces that come into play that have a different impact so I think that is always important,” he said.

And don't forget your mask
Mike Brant - Townsquare Media
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Bozza said he was glad the governor mentioned that if bullying should arise due to an individual’s choice to continue wearing a mask, that schools will be expected to take disciplinary action.

Some New Jersey Republican lawmakers are insisting the governor’s mask mandate decision was made at least in part because of their opposition to requiring masks in schools.

State Senate Republican Leader Steve Oroho, R-Sussex, said  “Gov. Murphy will never admit that the pressure is getting to him, but it absolutely is.”

State Sen. Declan O’Scanlon, R-Monmouth, said  “this mask mandate announcement is obviously in response to the scientifically-justified, consistent pressure so many of us have been inflicting for months, this action, over a policy that was dubious from the start and shown to be outright foolish and destructive months ago is already long overdue.”

You can contact reporter David Matthau at David.Matthau@townsquaremedia.com.

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