Three more NJ school superintendents want to unmask our kids.

The start of the next school year is still more than four months away, but pressure is already mounting to do away with masks for students. Governor Phil Murphy doubled down on the mask mandate in schools this week saying he does expect both students and teachers will be required to mask up when full-time in-class instruction resumes in September. He justified the order by saying there was no vaccine approved for kids under the age of 14. Pressed on whether he might change his mind, Murphy said he wanted to unmask kids, but "I can't say when." The teachers union also supports the mask mandate.

Mount Olive Schools Superintendent Robert Zywicki is the latest to ask the governor to reconsider. He says masking kids just doesn't make sense, especially when they can take part in close contact indoor sports without a mask, but then have to put one on to sit at their desk. Zywicki was one of the school officials Murphy enlisted to help put together his back-to-school plan last year. In his letter, Zywicki says allowing kids to take off their mask would be in line with "the opinions of prominent medical experts," and worried about teachers and staff "left in the compromised position" of having to explain why kids still have to mask up.

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The Brick and Freehold Regional districts are also asking Murphy to reconsider. Freehold Superintendent Charles Sampson tweeted there is "time before September to get it right. We certainly owe that to our kids.” The Brick Board of Education sent a letter to the governor asking him to return decision making, like wearing a mask, to the local level. If that happened, districts could then consult with staff, parents and students about mask policy. Not many, it appears, would support having kids mask up. Certainly not the kids themselves. 7 year old Hailey is a Howell first grader. She went before the school board on Wednesday asking board members to "help us get rid of these masks." She argued, "These masks don't make sense anymore," noting that she and her brothers "can take their masks off at stores and indoor places soon, everywhere except school."

State lawmakers are also pushing back. GOP State Senator Steve Oroho called on Murphy to lift all remaining COVID-19 restrictions, including the mask mandate for kids. “The fact that children in summer camps or daycare centers must continue to wear masks, even outside in the hot and humid New Jersey weather is truly absurd," Oroho said, "If parents want their kids to wear masks, that's their decision, but they should not be forced to do so by Governor Murphy.” State Sen. Kip Bateman, also a Republican, said Murphy should “quit micromanaging everything and remove all restrictions.”

 

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