Gov. Murphy: K-12 students must wear masks in school come September

Gov. Phil Murphy announced on Friday that K-12 students must wear masks in school at the start of the upcoming school year. Faculty and staff will also have to wear face coverings.

News 12 Staff

Aug 6, 2021, 10:08 AM

Updated 986 days ago

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Gov. Phil Murphy announced on Friday that K-12 students must wear masks in school at the start of the upcoming school year. Faculty and staff will also have to wear face coverings.
“Due to the recent and rampant spread of delta variant and no child under 12 can be vaccinated, and the reality that too many older students and parents remain unvaccinated,” Murphy said.
The governor made the announcement at Memorial Elementary School in East Brunswick.
“Anyone telling you you can safely open our schools without wearing a mask is simply lying to you,” Murphy said.
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While Murphy’s mandate comes on the heels of recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines, some parents were upset with the new rules. A group held a protest outside of the elementary school while the governor made his announcement.
Those parents say that it should be the parent's choice if a child wears a mask in school.
“We know the masks aren’t stopping the virus. They aren’t doing anything to protect our children. They are causing more mental illness than anything else,” says Lisa Raccuia.
But just as many parents support the mask mandate, including kindergarten teacher Christine Chinchar. She says that her class was just fine last year with masks. She says that while no one wants to wear masks longer than needed, it will be fine again this year if it will save lives.
“We taught last year masked and our children don’t have the option to get a vaccine at this time and we didn’t have a problem in kindergarten last year,” Chinchar says.
The New Jersey Teachers Association also supports the move. The union president attended Friday’s announcement and says that masks will alleviate many concerns of students, teachers and parents.
Republican Jack Ciatarelli, Murphy’s opponent in the upcoming gubernatorial election, blasted the mandate.
"Let me be clear, I oppose Gov. Murphy's mask mandate for students. The science is clear: nearly all children who contract COVID-19 are asymptomatic or mildly symptomatic and wearing masks for children is terrible for their social and emotional development,” Ciattarelli said in a statement. “Bottom line, whether a child wears a mask should be decided by parents, not government. If someone wants to have their child wear a mask, they should feel free to do so, but it's not something that should be forced on children.”
The governor says that the mandate isn’t permanent and that it will be lifted as soon as conditions allow.


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