TRENTON, N.J. – Gov. Phil Murphy’s announcement on Monday that school and child care masking requirements will be lifted March 7 is long overdue and a decision that should have solely resided with parents say Assemblyman Robert Auth and Assemblywoman DeAnne DeFuccio.
To keep the mask mandate another month, Murphy is extending the Public Health Emergency declared on Jan. 10 an additional 30 days. The mandate has been in effect since the beginning of the 2020-2021 school year, requiring students, staff and visitors to wear a face covering.
“Governor Murphy has finally decided to take the muzzle off our children, but he should have never had that type of power in the first place,” Auth (R-Bergen) said. “His pandemic policies have been illogical and harmful, especially to schoolchildren who have needlessly suffered learning loss and endured mental health struggles. It’s obvious that the masks have done more harm than good. The state shouldn’t replace parents – parents must always have the sole discretion to make masking and medical decisions.”
As of Monday, the state Department of Health did not have updated guidance for schools regarding social distancing or quarantining timelines, with Murphy saying that will come later.
“Details are important to parents, but Governor Murphy has seemingly left those out of today’s announcement, just as he has done to guardians and lawmakers during the state’s entire two-year pandemic response,” DeFuccio (R-Bergen) said. “While I think we can all breathe a collective sigh of relief that our innocent children will return to some sense of normalcy, the governor’s unilateral decisions will continue to have long-lasting consequences.”
During Monday’s press briefing, Murphy denied feeling outside pressure to lift the mask mandates. New Jersey was among only a handful of states with existing blanket school mask mandates.