New Jersey, Delaware announce end dates for school mask mandates
The governors of New Jersey and Delaware announced Monday that COVID-19 mask mandates for K-12 schools will end next month, joining other states that have already lifted such measures.
At a press conference, New Jersey’s Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy announced that the state’s school and childcare facility mask mandate would be lifted effective March 7, citing “a dramatic decline in our COVID numbers.”
“We're announcing this with plenty of advance notice for our schools and child care settings for our students and their families, our educators, and support staff to determine how this will impact them and to finalize any steps they may need to make in preparation. Masking continues to be an important tool to prevent the spread of COVID,” Murphy said.
He said the state was not removing the ability of individual districts or facilities to maintain and enforce mask policies, and that the state’s health department would be putting together guidance on the matter.
“We're also buoyed by the continued growth of vaccinations and the expectation that the vaccines will be made available to children under the age of 5 in early March,” state health commissioner Judith M. Persichilli, RN, BSN, MA, said at the press conference.
“This is not a declaration of victory, as much as an acknowledgement that we can responsibly live with this thing,” Murphy added.
Delaware Gov. John Carney, also a Democrat, said that effective March 31, students and staff members in schools and childcare facilities in the state will no longer be required to wear masks.
“We’re in a much better place than we were several weeks ago in the middle of the omicron surge of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations,” Carney said in a statement. “I want to be clear about this point — COVID is still circulating in our communities. And the virus still poses a risk of serious illness, particularly among those who are not up to date on their vaccinations. But we have the tools to keep ourselves and each other safe. Get vaccinated. Get your booster. That’s especially important for children, where we continue to see low rates of vaccination.”
Edward LifshitzMD, director of the New Jersey health department’s communicable disease service, said the state was heading “in the right direction.”
“I do think it is important for people to realize that while it's appropriate to begin doing things like loosening up so that people can go about their lives, the virus will not have disappeared,” Lifshitz said. “It will still be around. People still need to make reasonable decisions and take reasonable protections, first amongst those is getting vaccinated. Also sometimes wearing masks in appropriate situations, ventilation and all these other things that we've been talking about for years.”
The AAP told Healio that it continues to recommend universal masking for all students.
“Governor also announces school mask requirement will end on March 31.” https://news.delaware.gov/2022/02/07/governor-carney-announces-expiration-of-universal-indoor-mask-mandate-on-february-11/?fbclid=IwAR2J1Cfv3Mi-W4-8km2ym7Xcm9mAIBqKlKt6FICkBoeYtozkUBF6eB-HuXw. Published Feb. 7, 2022. Accessed Feb. 7, 2022.