Anti-mask Parents in NJ Get the Attention But a Quieter Majority is Winning
Anger and frustration over masks for school children get the attention.
Yet recent surveys show that parents who support masks in schools may be the quiet majority getting their way as districts follow directives issued by the governor and recommendations from public health agencies.
No doubt you've seen the angry school board meetings in New Jersey and around the country. The meetings are dominated by parents upset by Gov. Phil Murphy mandating that all students wear masks in school this year.
But a recent Monmouth University poll shows the majority of people would not only support the mask mandate for kids but wouldn't mind a return to an order for everyone.
During Tuesday night's Marlboro Board of Education meeting, nearly a dozen parents and students spoke against the mandate. Only one parent spoke in favor of masks. But an internal survey found far more support, with 63% of parents responding that they support the mask mandate.
Board Member Kathleen Amster said the district has a duty to represent both sides of the issue.
"Although the majority is saying they agree, we're here to represent the 37% as well. That's our obligation," she said to applause from the crowd. "Obviously we're not going to go against the mandate but I think the least we can do is to say collectively 'these are our results.' I've always felt in my heart a parent knows their child best."
The Wayne Board of Education on Thursday night heard from nearly 30 parents for over two hours before a vote on whether or not to send Murphy a letter asking him to rescind the order, according to TAP into Wayne coverage of the meeting. The letter was not approved by a 4-3 vote with one member abstaining.
School Board member Karen Jackson told TAP Into Wayne that the most vocal people at the meetings do not represent the majority of residents, who she believes might be staying away from the gatherings in order to avoid unmasked and potentially unvaccinated crowds.
But those opposed to the masks and mandates are getting heard.
Parents from around the state have held protests near Murphy's home, with many calling for mask to be left to families' discretion.
During the Toms River Regional Board of Education meeting on August 18, parents kept shouting comments as Acting Superintendent Stephen Genco and the district's attorney tried to explain why the district could not ignore Murphy's mandate.
Angry parents refused to mask up at Tuesday's Board of Education meeting in Wall as if to make a statement about wearing the face coverings. After an hour-long standoff, the board rescheduled the meeting.