Was Murphy wrong to end NJ school mask mandate?
As more New Jersey school districts decide what to do about masking students and staff after the statewide mandate is lifted on March 7, Camden school officials are telling parents not to throw their masks out.
Camden joins Newark and Plainfield in announcing masks will still be required for students and staff.
At the same time, some districts are relaxing COVID rules even farther.
Howell, Marlboro, Middletown and Pennsville schools will make masks voluntary after March 7, but have also announced an end to quarantine rules for exposure to a COVID infected person in school. The districts have also suspended contact tracing.
Meanwhile, state Sen. Joe Vitale says the mask mandate should not be lifted at all.
Vitale is chairman of the Senate Health Committee, and one of the earliest proponents of mandatory COVID vaccine requirements to attend public schools.
He told NJ.com Gov. Phil Murphy was wrong to go against Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance urging schools to require masks for student and staff.
It is particularly worrisome, Vitale says, to lift the mask mandate in daycare settings when kids under five are not eligible to be vaccinated.
When he announced an end to the mask mandate, Murphy said it was "a huge step toward normalcy.” He also continues to insist COVID is something we will "have to learn to live with" and we can't "manage this to zero."
Ending the mask mandate, or not, is expected to be a contentious issue at upcoming school board meetings as districts attempt to set new policies.
Tensions over mask wearing already boiled over at recent meetings in Freehold and Marlboro. Two anti-mask adults refused to wear masks during public comments and compared COVID pandemic protocol to Nazi tactics.