Some New Jersey school districts begin to loosen in-school mask mandate due to extreme temperatures

Gov. Phil Murphy reminded New Jersey districts Monday that the in-school mask mandate does have an exception when it comes to extreme temperatures such as the heat.

News 12 Staff

Jun 8, 2021, 10:00 AM

Updated 1,049 days ago

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Gov. Phil Murphy reminded New Jersey districts Monday that the in-school mask mandate does have an exception when it comes to extreme temperatures such as the heat.
Numerous school district superintendents and board presidents wrote to the governor over the last few weeks, asking him to unmask the kids inside and outside the classrooms. Districts had a choice Tuesday because of the ongoing heat.
Murphy said school officials can relax mask-wearing in their buildings given the conditions.
Districts especially in Monmouth and Ocean counties sent those letters to the governor pleading for him to at least give them the option to remove the masks. 
“Unmask our kids, enough is enough,” says parent Jenn Laing. “Unmask these kids. Why are they the only one suffering?" With temperatures soaring again into the 90s, some parents such as Laing say it's tough to keep up with the changing mask rules.
“You can't explain it to them they are confused,” says Laing. “On a daily, just like I am every single day, guidance changes. I'm confused. Nothing makes sense. It's becoming a joke at this point.”
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Point Pleasant Superintendent Vincent Smith says a decision on masks will be made daily by himself and the building's principal. But a decision could be made in advance if the forecast calls for consecutive days of extreme heat.
"The decision for students and staff to not wear a mask under these circumstances will be made each morning on a daily basis by the superintendent of schools in conjunction with the building principal. If a future forecast shows consecutive days of extreme heat, a decision could be made in advance,” Smith said in a letter to parents.
But Laing questions the timing of the governor's announcement
“It had every decision of course, primary today,” says Laing. “Yesterday, he's like at 2 o'clock, he's going to make this decision when all schools are already done for the day. They already suffered. My kid came home yesterday with heat exhaustion, spent an hour on the couch drinking Gatorade because he felt horrible."
Other districts such as Deptford Township are simply making mask-wearing optional from now until the end of the year.
Wall is dropping the mask mandates on buses, outdoors, and in rooms where there is no air conditioning.
Little Egg Harbor Superintendent Dr. Melissa McCooley announced on Facebook Monday night that masks will now be optional for students and staff for the rest of the school year.


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