Masks now optional inside the classroom

April 7, 2022

Students+in+New+Jersey+schools+have+been+wearing+masks+for+about+two+years.+

Marcos Cola

Students in New Jersey schools have been wearing masks for about two years.

It’s official. New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy lifted the mask mandate in schools and daycares around the state on March 7.

“With COVID-19 moving into an endemic, the time has come to move toward normalcy,” said Governor Murphy in an online press statement. “In the past two years, New Jerseyans have shown great strength, resiliency, and kindness during one of the most difficult and trying times in the history of our state. The steps I am taking today have been made possible by our highly-successful vaccination efforts and the collective efforts of the people of our state.”

Emerson Public School Superintendent Brian Gatens reacted positively.

“I am happy with the fact that we can talk about a mask-free world,” Gatens said.

Gatens thinks the district will ease into the change in policy. He acknowledged that at first some people may find it challenging to decide whether to wear a mask all day, in certain situations, or not at all. Fifth grade student Ryan Calandrillo  has already made up his mind.

“I feel safe not wearing my mask,” Calandrillo said.

Other students are taking a more precautious approach.

“Masks are just another way of protecting yourself from Covid,” explained Dom Piserchia.

Piserchia, a fifth-grade student, said he’ll continue to wear his mask in school until he feels a bit more comfortable and sees the number of Covid cases drop a bit more.

“Conditions have improved in our state–immunity is high, cases have dropped significantly, therapeutics have improved, and testing is rapid and readily available. So, it does make sense to relax restrictions as we learn to live with the virus,” said Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli in an online press statement.  “But taking masks off doesn’t mean that other strategies should be abandoned. In fact, they become more important. So, please continue to wash your hands frequently, physically distance, stay home when you’re sick, and get vaccinated and boosted to protect yourselves, your families, your friends, and our children.”

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