Toms River School Board President pleads with Governor to end mask mandate in schools
The mask mandates will be lifted this coming Friday per a Governor Phil Murphy announcement on Monday but only mostly, not fully and among those being affected in the short term and evidently long term basis are elementary school students.
In a Tuesday announcement, Governor Murphy announced that he foresaw elementary school students, under the age of 12, having to wear a mask in the fall of this coming school year because vaccines aren't available yet for those under 12.
For the time being, everyone in a school building has to wear a mask, even after Friday.
The Toms River Regional School District is among those requesting a reverse of course.
Toms River School Board President Joe Nardini penned a letter to Governor Murphy on Tuesday asking that he repeal the Executive Order that mandates students, teachers and staff have to wear a mask in school.
Nardini cites examples in his letter of the district, over the course of the pandemic, with measures to prevent spread incline PPE, air purifiers, desk dividers and masks.
Most of the staff in the district has been vaccinated as well, Nardini said.
His letter has been sent via mail and email to the Governor's office, where, for now shines as a beacon of hope for Toms River and other districts hoping the mask mandate is lifted soon.
Here is the letter to Governor Murphy:
Dear Governor Murphy:
I write to you on behalf of the Toms River School Board in order to express the overwhelming opinion of my fellow board members and the tens of thousands of students and families who comprise this school district, which as you know is one of the largest in the state.
It is with respect and great hope for your sincere consideration that I request you repeal Executive Order 175 in time for the start of the 2021-2022 school year, and relieve our students, teachers, and staff members of the obligation to wear masks inside of school. Additionally, I ask that there be no separation of students based on vaccination status.
This request is submitted in good faith and with great respect for the science and data which drives national, state, and local regulations regarding Covid-19.
Our board and school district is not “anti-mask” as a general matter of supposed principle. In fact, it’s our community’s adherence to health and safety measures which prompts this reasoned request.
We’ve worked alongside our partners at RWJBarnabas Health to vaccinate our teachers, staff, and even students.
We’ve consulted with the Ocean County Health Department and followed all state guidance throughout this pandemic. We’ve gone above and beyond with measures including desk dividers, additional PPE, air purifiers and, of course, a mask mandate. We even installed a Covid Counter for full transparency on our website.
At this point, however, and certainly projecting to September, we believe masks are unnecessary.
The vast majority of our staff have been fully vaccinated, and the risk that Covid-19 poses to our student population-- many of whom will also be vaccinated heading into next year-- is extremely low, and not inclusive of the more dramatic symptoms and health problems known to affect older adults.
Please consider repealing Executive Order 175 in time for September, and restoring a sense of normalcy that will help us all breathe easier, literally and figuratively.
Thank you, Governor Murphy, for your consideration of this request, and for your leadership throughout these trying times.
Sincerely, Joseph Nardini President, Toms River School Board