Feb 7, 2022 - Health

New Jersey governor ending school mask mandate

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy (D) speaking in the city of Paramus in January 2022.

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy (D) speaking in the city of Paramus in January 2022. Photo: Lev Radin/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy (D) announced Monday that the state will lift its mask mandate for students and school employees next month.

Why it matters: It is the first time since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic that New Jersey has rolled back its school mask mandate, signaling a shift in how the state may view the virus.

  • New confirmed cases and hospitalizations from the virus in New Jersey have rapidly decreased since peaking in early January, according to data from the state's coronavirus dashboard.
  • Murphy said the new policy will begin on March 7 but noted that it will not change the ability of individual districts to maintain and enforce mask mandates.

What they're saying: "We are not going to manage COVID to zero," Murphy said in a tweet. "We have to learn how to live with COVID as we move from a pandemic to an endemic phase of this virus."

  • "We are optimistic that given the decreased severity of this new variant, and the continued increase in vaccinations, that we are finally nearing this inflection point," he added.

The big picture: Several states across the country have reevaluated their mask mandates in recent weeks.

  • Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin's (R) issued an executive order ending the state's school mask mandate, though the order is now being challenged in court by at least seven school boards.
  • Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf (D) rescinded the state's mask mandate last month, allowing school districts to set their masking policies.
  • Delaware Gov. John Carney (D) said Monday that the state's mask mandates for indoor public settings and schools will end over the next two months.
  • The governors of New York and Connecticut also recently said they may soon reevaluate masks mandates.

Go deeper: The kids' vaccine dilemma

Editor's note: This article has been updated with new details throughout.

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