Governor Phil Murphy is warning school districts not to defy his mask mandate.

Murphy ordered all students and staff to mask up in school buildings to help prevent the spread of COVID as kids return for full-time in-person learning next month.

Several districts have pushed back on the order, saying it should be up to local districts to decide what COVID measures should be taken.

On Monday, Murphy issues this warning: "We will not look kindly on that and will take the appropriate action in response."

While a number of districts have sent Murphy letters asking for clarification on the mask mandate, and asking him to leave the decision up to local towns to decide, he has held firm.

There are exceptions to the mask mandate, but they are not easy to obtain. In order for a student to be granted a medical exemption, they must be granted an "Individualized Education Program," or IEP.  An IEP is typically used to detail special education requirements for students with disabilities. The creation and adoption of an IEP is an intensive process that often involves lawyers.

However, Murphy's hometown district, Middletown, is looking to make that medical exemption easier for parents to obtain. The school board may vote on a resolution that would allow an exemption with a simple note from a parent or physician. obtained a copy of the resolution, and reports that it states a child may be exempt from wearing a mask by the submission of an “individual or parental testimonial letter as evidence that wearing a mask inhibits an individual’s health."

If the Middletown School Board were to adopt such a policy, it would be the biggest challenge yet to Murphy's mask mandate.

While the governor made it clear there would be enforcement actions taken on the part of the state, he did not make it clear what that action would be.

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