New Jersey school mask mandate ends, but districts can still make their own decisions

Individual school districts will be free to continue requiring masks.
TRENTON, New Jersey (WPVI) -- New Jersey's school mask mandate ends Monday, but that doesn't mean all masks will be off.

Governor Phil Murphy made the announcement last month, citing the rapid easing of the omicron surge. He called the move "a huge step back to normalcy for our kids."

New Jersey's school mask mandate has been in place since classes resumed in person in September 2020.

"We are not - and I've said this many times - going to manage COVID to zero," Murphy said. "We have to learn how to live with COVID as we move from a pandemic to an endemic phase of this virus."

Though the state mandate has ended, individual school districts will be free to continue requiring masks past March 7.

Several school districts in the state, including Camden and Trenton, are still making masks mandatory.

"Currently, health officials are advising Trenton Public Schools to continue with 'mandatory masks' protocol while we assess infections and hospitalizations in the city on a weekly basis," Trenton Superintendent James Earle said.

Many mask mandates have already been lifted in Pennsylvania.

On Monday, the Upper Darby School District joins the list.

Upper Darby still recommends masks, but no longer requires them.

"Thankfully, the data are trending in a positive direction, and transmission rates within our schools have also rapidly declined since December and January," Upper Darby Superintendent of Schools, Daniel P. McGarry, said in a message.

In the School District of Philadelphia, masks are mandatory Monday and Tuesday this week. But starting Wednesday, they will become optional for students and staff, with the exception of Pre-K Head Start programs.

"If mask wearing becomes optional in District schools and offices, our collective goal remains the same: to have students, staff and families work together to maintain healthy learning and work environments that allow for us to keep our schools open for full-time, in-person learning. We will continue to stay in communication with all of our stakeholders about how we can keep our students and staff safe while in our schools," the School District of Philadelphia said in a statement.


The Associated Press contributed to this report
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