The vast majority of New Jersey's 1.28 million public school students and 130,000 teachers will be able to go mask-free as of this morning.

It's the first time faces will be seen in school buildings in 18 months as Gov. Phil Murphy lifts his controversial mask mandate.

For the thousands of parents and students who had been protesting the mask mandate for months, it is welcome news, even if they believe it came far too late.

There are a handful of New Jersey's largest districts, however, that have imposed their own local mask mandates and will require students and staff to wear a face covering for the foreseeable future.

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Those districts include Newark, Paterson, Trenton, New Brunswick, East Orange, Plainfield, Hillside, and South Orange-Maplewood.

Many of the above districts will revisit the masking issue after Spring break.

In the West Windsor-Plainsboro School District, masks are being required this week for students and staff in pre-K through 5th grade. In grades 6-12 masks are optional.

The district will continue to exercise caution as the challenges and impact of COVID unfold. We will uphold cautious and judicious guidance favoring the health and well-being of students, staff, and our greater WW-P school community. Since our return to in-person instruction, masks have been an extremely important component of our mitigation strategies and will continue to be a part of our school communities lives as masks will remain a constant scenario-based tool. WW-P will continue to systematically utilize masks in circumstances where social distancing cannot be maintained and when community spread is elevated. The District’s masking guidance will be based on vaccine rates, transmission rates and grade levels. - West Windsor-Plainsboro School District

West Windsor-Plainsboro officials say they will evaluate the mask policy on a weekly basis, and notify parents of any changes.

The lifting of the statewide mask mandate comes as Gov. Murphy also allows his public health emergency declaration to also expire.

On Friday, Murphy held his last regularly scheduled COVID briefing and said he believed New Jersey residents could now live daily lives without major restrictions as the coronavirus outbreak moves from pandemic to endemic.

He tweeted after the meeting to "enjoy the Spring," but "don't be a knucklehead."

Despite lifting the public health emergency, Murphy's vaccine mandates remain in effect for government and healthcare workers.

On Sunday, the state reported just 617 new COVID positive tests.

The CDC data tracker now lists all New Jersey counties as having a moderate or low risk of community transmission.

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