Photo Credit: TAPInto East Brunswick
Saying his decision was “not permanent,” Governor Phil Murphy announced on Friday that when students in kindergarten through the 12th grade return to their classrooms in September, they will be required to wear face masks due to the uncertainty of the coronavirus Delta variant.
The Governor made the announcement at East Brunswick’s Memorial School, as protestors outside displayed their displeasure with the Governor’s announcement.
“We understand that students learn best in a classroom setting and remain committed to having our schools open for full-time, in-person instruction this fall,” said Murphy. “While this announcement gives us no pleasure, I know that by taking this precaution we can keep our schools open while also keeping our children safe. We will continue to closely monitor the science and data and will lift this mandate when we can do so safely. I urge those who are eligible for vaccination but have yet to be vaccinated to act and help move our state in the right direction.”
Under Executive Order (EO) 251, signed by Governor Murphy, masks and social distancing will be mandated for students, teachers, employees, and visitors inside the premises of all public, private, and parochial preschool, elementary, and secondary school buildings, with limited exemptions, in all of New Jersey’s K-12 schools as the 2021/22 school year gets underway.
Murphy stated that remote learning was not a replacement for the bond a student can achieve with their teachers in face-to-face learning situations. The Governor added he wants to see the smiling faces of students, but the health and safety of everyone inside of New Jersey’s school buildings comes first.
“New Jersey PTA supports following the latest and most up to date guidance from the CDC and acknowledges Governor Murphy’s difficult decision,” said Candy Fredericks, President of the New Jersey Parent Teacher Association (PTA). “It is the goal of New Jersey PTA to ensure that each and every student in New Jersey is able to have a safe, happy, and equitable learning environment as we begin school in September and way past the pandemic.”
During the press conference the Governor stated that the New Jersey Health Department’s statistics show 80% of new coronavirus cases are among the unvaccinated; 95% of people hospitalized are unvaccinated and noting that every New Jerseyan who recently died was unvaccinated.