NJ School Mask Mandate set to expire January 11, Governor Murphy is looking to extend this mandate



Antonio "Tony" Macaluso

New Jersey’s school mask mandate is going to expire January 11, however Governor Phil Murphy is looking to approve this mandate for another 90 days with New Jersey lawmakers. 

This request from Murphy to NJ lawmakers comes when NJ’s 7-day average for new confirmed positive tests went up 91% a week ago, which is the highest 7-day average the state has recorded since the start of the pandemic. Although not officially approved yet, Murphy is desperately trying to keep the mandate in place for the foreseeable future due to the highly contagious omicron variant of COVID-19. 

With extending this mandate, Murphy is also looking to extend mandates which includes the continuation to oversee vaccine and testing distribution, as well as continuing to proceed with following the federal health guidelines, which is also set to expire January 11. 

“In my current position, although I may not always agree with current legislation, it is my job and duty to follow the mandates they conduct, “ Shore Regional assistant principal Mr. Bruccoleri said on the possibility of the extended school mask mandate, “I think the impact this has on the social and emotional wellness of our youth is something that can’t be downplayed, we will see an unfortunate negative impact in the years to come.”

Although Murphy lifted the statewide mask mandate back in May 2021, masks were still required in settings that were considered “vulnerable” such as schools, daycare centers, healthcare facilities, public transportation, and in-state government buildings. 

Although there is currently no statewide mask mandate in all indoor settings, that didn’t stop certain New Jersey cities to start enforcing there own COVID-19 mandates. Hoboken, Paterson, and Newark have just passed there own executive orders which enforces mask wearing in all indoor settings. Newark as well passed a vaccine mandate effective immediately when visiting any indoor restaurant and/or entertainment venue within the city. 

With Murphy requesting lawmakers to extend the mask mandate another 90 days, the mandate will likely last until April. Knowing that cases typically decrease in spring or summer time when it’s warmer and more people socialize outdoors, there is a lot of uncertainty surrounding this new variant Omicron and how highly contagious it is.  “Not only mask mandates, but social distancing requirements as well,” Mr. Bruccoleri commented, “I feel bad for our students that they can’t socialize the way they want to even during lunch because of the way the state protocols are set up.” Only time will tell, and as of right now, Omicron has shown no signs in slowing down its spread.