End to School Mask Mandate Could Trigger a New Fight in NJ
When Gov. Phil Murphy announced this week an end to his controversial school mask mandate, it was not the final decision in the matter.
Murphy will not require kids to wear a mask in school as of March 7, but he has left the mask policy up to local school districts.
Former Republican candidate for Governor Jack Ciattarelli predicts it will again turn school board meetings into a "battleground" that pits members of the community against one another.
He may be right.
While many districts have already announced that mask-wearing will be voluntary for students and staff members, some districts have announced the mask policy will continue.
Newark and Plainfield school officials have already told parents kids will still have to mask up to attend in-person classes.
Other districts, however, have taken no action until their local school boards meet to discuss the matter.
There have already been heated meetings across the state with parents demanding the unmasking of students. Multiple protests have been held outside district headquarters and school buildings.
On Facebook, Ciattarelli asked, "Why can't the governor get it right on student masks?" and argued there should be no state or local mandates. Instead, it should be parents who decide whether their kids wear a mask or not.
Jim Stefankiewicz, superintendent of Ocean Township Schools, told the Asbury Park Press they will discuss the mask issue at an upcoming board of education meeting.
The superintendent of the Neptune Township Schools, Tami Crader, said the same, and conceded the issue has been "so divisive in our communities."
Some parents, it appears, are already gearing up for a fight.
The Facebook group unmaskourkidsNJ is filled with comments about Murphy's announcement, and demands for the mask mandate to be lifted now, not next month.
The group has been responsible for helping to organize multiple protests, and plans to continue to do so.