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New Jersey To Drop School Mask Mandate

Democratic New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy will lift the state’s school mask mandate for the first time since it was implemented two years earlier, multiple sources reported Sunday.

“The overwhelming sentiment on both sides of the aisle is we want to get to a place where we can live with this thing in as normal a fashion as possible,” Murphy said Wednesday, according to The New York Times. The mandate is set to end the second week of March, the NYT reported.

New Jersey is one of only 11 states with mandatory masking for all students, according to the National Academy For State Health Policy. Mandatory masking states, including Connecticut and New York, may let their mandates expire in the near future, according to the NYT. Pennsylvania rescinded its school mask mandate in January.

The issue of forced masking in schools has energized voters and driven parental involvement in local politics, particularly in school boards.

Republican Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin issued an executive order in January allowing parents to decide whether their students would wear masks in class. Three school districts in Virginia are fighting the executive order, with Fairfax County suspending maskless students and threatening them with trespassing charges.

Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis banned mask mandates in July 2021 and moved to sanction school districts that continued to impose them in October 2021. All mask mandates in Florida school districts were dropped by the end of 2021.

“People who reported always wearing a mask indoors in public were less likely to test positive for the virus,” the NYT reported, citing a CDC study.

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