Two-thirds of voters in New Jersey, including 69% of parents who were polled, are in favor of the current requirement that students, teachers and staff be masked up while indoors at school in order to limit the spread of COVID-19, according to Monmouth University Poll results released Monday.

"We're seeing a lot of protests about the mask mandate in the schools right now ... but the folks out there who are protesting are really not representing the vast majority of New Jerseyans, including New Jersey parents," said Patrick Murray, director of the Monmouth University Polling Institute.

Respondents are more split when it comes to how schools should operate to start the 2021 academic year, and on vaccination requirements for students and staff.

According to the poll, 67% of registered voters support the mask requirement for schools, and 28% disapprove of the rule.

Mandatory vaccines?

Parents are less supportive than the general public of vaccine mandates for school attendance.

In the poll, 53% of all respondents said they would approve of a vaccination requirement, in order to attend school, for children age 12 and older. Overall, 45% of respondents would support the same requirement for children under 12 years of age if a vaccine for that age group is authorized.

Just 44% of parents would approve of a vaccination mandate for older children, and 39% would support such a requirement for younger students.

More than 800 New Jersey residents were polled by telephone from August 11 to August 16, before Murphy announced his vaccine/testing mandate for school personnel.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention currently recommends that everyone 12 years and older receive COVID-19 vaccination.

Remote vs. in-school instruction

Just 6% of respondents are looking for fully remote instruction of children to start the 2021-2022 school year. But since parents were last polled by Monmouth in May, there's been growth in the share of folks who'd be interested in implementing some remote learning into the schedule.

In the poll, 48% of New Jersey voters say that schools should be fully open for in-person instruction in the fall, and 39% say there should be a mix of in-person and online instruction. As for parents of minors specifically, 53% want in-person instruction only, and 40% prefer a hybrid model.

Among parents and the general public, there was more support for in-person instruction and less support for hybrid learning when residents were asked in May.

"With the Delta variant, there are some people saying that keeping our kids home a couple days a week or for part of their instruction might make sense," Murray said.

Contact reporter Dino Flammia at dino.flammia@townsquaremedia.com.

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