Murphy says the school mask mandate is ‘the one we need to do’


EAST BRUNSWICK, NJ (AP) – Stating that COVID-19 outbreaks will multiply without the need to cover their faces in classrooms, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy said on Friday he required students, teachers and visitors to schools to wear masks indoors when the school year begins.

“This is not an announcement that pleases any of us – or me personally – but as the school year approaches and with the numbers rising rapidly, this is the one we need to make. “said Murphy, a Democrat running for reelection. Memorial Elementary in East Brunswick.

The rise of the delta variant was a factor in the decision, Murphy said, adding that the move would be temporary.

The announcement came alongside health, school and work officials and just beyond vocal protests outside from parents upset by the demand.

“My child, my choice,” chanted the crowd, some through megaphones. Others carried signs that read “Unmask Our Children.”

Dr Jeanne Craft, head of the New Jersey section of the American Academy of Pediatrics, appeared alongside the governor and said that the fact that children under 12 are not yet eligible for the vaccine is a factor to assess the safety of reopening schools.

“Please get vaccinated if you are eligible, mask yourself,” she said. “Here in New Jersey we have seen a worrying increase in viral spread. A hopeful spring has turned into a worrying summer. Conditions have changed, the risk is higher, especially for children.

New Jersey’s COVID-19 numbers have increased as have other places across the country. The seven-day moving average of new cases fell from 555 on July 21 to 1,159 on Wednesday, according to Johns Hopkins University.

Bridgette Veasy, a special education teacher and mother of a sixth and third grader in Riverton, New Jersey, said she was “thrilled” with the new requirement.

“I’m thrilled because my kids aren’t vaccinated, so working in a classroom, you know kids, when they sneeze they’re aiming at your face,” she said.

Veasy said she understands why some parents aren’t happy with the mandate: masks can be uncomfortable and no one likes official mandates, she said.

“I know everyone has an opinion. I think as a parent you don’t want the government telling you what to do with your kids. I understand the point. But it’s a bit obtuse at this point. We are in a pandemic, ”she said.

Masks should be optional, said Melissa Alfieri-Collins, a registered nurse who attended a previous rally of people skeptical of vaccine requirements.

“You have to leave the choice to parents if they do not want to hide their children,” she said in a text message.

The rising numbers are part of a widespread fight against the contagious delta variant, as well as refractory vaccines, resulting in higher hospitalization rates across the country.

Other states are grappling with how to handle masking in the new school year.

Along with New Jersey, the list of states requiring masks in schools includes California, Louisiana, Oregon, and Washington.

In Florida, two school districts have decided to require masks when children return to class despite a statewide mask ban by the governor.

In Arizona, at least three school districts are defying the state’s ban on masks, despite a recently enacted law banning face coverage requirements.

None of the state’s 600 or so school districts will be allowed to waive the mandate, Murphy said on Friday.

Unlike other places in the country, however, New Jersey’s vaccination rate is among the highest in the country. Nationally, the percentage of adults fully vaccinated against COVID-19 stands at nearly 61%. In New Jersey, the rate is 71%, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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