-11.5 C
Saturday, December 3, 2022

Four US Governors Plan to Remove Mask Mandates in Schools Soon

Four governors stated Monday that statewide mask regulations in schools will be lifted by the end of February or early March, noting the quick easing of COVID-19’s omicron spike.

The choices were made in Connecticut, Delaware, New Jersey, and Oregon as state and municipal governments debated which virus limitations to remove and which to maintain in place. The changes also coincide with a rising belief that the virus will never go away and that Americans must learn to live with it.

Gov. Phil Murphy of New Jersey hailed the action “a tremendous step back to normalcy for our kids” and stated that once the state mandate expires on March 7, local school districts will be able to continue enforcing masks.

Meanwhile, California announced plans to abolish the requirement for vaccinated adults to wear masks indoors next week, although masks will still be required for kids in the nation’s most populous state.

According to the independent National Academy for State Health Policy, the four states are among a dozen that have mask laws in schools. Since September 2020, when school started in person, New Jersey has had a requirement.

In announcing the pullback, Murphy claimed a “dramatic fall in our COVID figures.” The omicron form fuelled a rise in infections during the holidays, but since last week, cases in the state have declined by half and hospitalizations have dropped by a third, he added.

The governor stated, “We are not going to control COVID to zero,” as he has previously stated. “As we go from a pandemic to an endemic phase of COVID, we must learn to live with it.”

On February 28, Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont proposed removing the statewide requirement in schools and child care centers. Delaware Governor John Carney stated the state’s school mask rule will be in effect until March.

Schools in Oregon will no longer be required to wear masks as of March 31. Health officials have stated that the statewide mask requirement for indoor public spaces will be eliminated by the end of March.

Dr. Dean Sidelinger, the state medical officer and epidemiologist, said that when the mask requirement is lifted, education and health authorities would meet in the following weeks to adjust recommendations to “guarantee schools can continue functioning safely and keep children in class.”

The March 31 date was chosen based on health scientists’ forecasts that COVID-19-related hospitalizations will drop to 400 or less by then — a level seen in Oregon before to the omicron variant outbreak.

Unvaccinated persons will still be required to wear masks indoors after Feb. 15, according to state officials, and everyone will be compelled to wear masks in higher-risk settings such as public transportation, nursing homes, and other communal living facilities. Local governments are free to continue requiring indoor masks.

Indoor “mega events” with more than 1,000 people would be forced to demand immunizations or negative tests, and those who are unvaccinated will be obliged to wear masks, according to state officials. There is no necessity for immunization for outdoor events with more over 10,000 attendees, however masks or negative testing are encouraged.

In many parts of the United States, the argument over masks in schools has polarized, with parents demonstrating at school board meetings and slates of pro- and anti-mask candidates running for school board seats in a bid to alter regulations.

Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, said Monday that wearing a mask in school “still remains our advice,” but she didn’t blame states for not requiring it.

“School districts have always been in charge.” “From here, that’s always been our point of view and policy,” she explained.

According to the National Academy for State Health Policy, eight Republican-led states, including Florida and Texas, have restrictions on school mask mandates, but some have been postponed due to court battles with districts and parents who wish to impose masks.

In Illinois, where a court last week overturned Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s statewide school mask mandate, the state’s attorney general announced Monday that he will appeal the decision. The verdict does not apply to the Chicago school system, which recently refused to hold in-person sessions until an agreement was made on safety precautions, including giving KN95 masks to kids and employees. The nation’s third-largest district will continue to demand masks.

Republicans and some parents put pressure on Murphy, holding protests at the statehouse demanding an end to the requirement. The New Jersey Education Association, the state’s largest teachers organization, has backed the governor’s mask regulation.

COVID-19 is trending in the right direction, according to the union, and it’s “proper for Gov. Murphy to enable local districts to continue to enforce masking in places where it is reasonable based on local conditions,” according to the statement.

Since mid-January, when they peaked at over 800,000, the number of new COVID-19 cases every day has dropped by more than a half-million throughout the country. According to data from Johns Hopkins University, cases have decreased in 47 states during the last two weeks.

In addition, since mid-January, the number of Americans admitted to hospitals with COVID-19 has decreased by 28% to over 111,000.

Deaths are still at an all-time high, with over 2,400 per day on average, the highest level since last winter, owing to a time lag between when people become sick and when they die.

In New Jersey, it’s unknown how many and when the state’s 600+ school districts will stop wearing masks.

According to district spokesperson Paul Brubaker, the school system in Paterson, the state’s third-largest city, would take time to speak with administration officials, principals, parents, and employees.

Melissa Alfieri-Collins, a mother of two who opposes school-based mask regulations and advocates “choice,” praised the governor’s decision. However, she expressed fear that districts could continue to enforce mask regulations.

“As a result,” she added, “parents need an opt-out choice for when and if districts do this.”

The state of Connecticut will also enable school districts to keep the regulation in place. Although it is uncertain whether Delaware would follow suit, the governor stated that he wants to allow school districts time to explore a local mandate.

Stephen White, a 55-year-old father of a 14-year-old boy, said he would oppose the repeal of the requirement if it went into force immediately. But in four weeks, everything will be different.

“By that time period, if the rates are going down and they can say, ‘OK, kids are vaccinated’ — if they have a significant number of vaccinated kids — I don’t see why they shouldn’t wear a mask at school,” he added.

Francis Amegah, a 63-year-old Newark resident with two children, believes the mandate’s demise is “far time.”

“They shouldn’t be wearing masks,” says the narrator. We’ll be able to deal with everything that comes up. “I think the parents should be able to handle it,” he stated.

Republicans claimed credit for pressuring Gov. Rick Scott to abolish the requirement.

“Gov. Murphy would never accept it, but the pressure is certainly getting to him,” GOP Senate Leader Steve Oroho said.

Cedric Blackwater
Cedric Blackwater
Cedric is a journalist with over a decade of experience reporting on local US news, and touching on many global topics. He is currently the lead writer for Bulletin News.

Related Articles


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Stay Connected

- Advertisement -

Latest Articles