New Jersey is dropping its requirement that students and staffers wear masks at schools, reports NJ.com. The news was seen as significant because Gov. Phil Murphy is a Democrat "who has imposed some of the nation’s most stringent pandemic-related mandates," per the New York Times. The mandate will be lifted the second week of March, though local districts will have the authority to reimpose the rule if they deem it necessary. Delaware, led by Democratic Gov. John Carney, also is lifting its mask mandate for schools, effective next week, reports CNN.
Both states are acting as new COVID cases plummet in the wake of the omicron surge. Pennsylvania already rescinded its school mandate, and New York and Connecticut are considering doing the same. All are led by Democratic governors. Many Republican governors never instituted such mandates in the first place, and the issue has set off divisive fights in school districts and in courtrooms. But with cases on the decline, more Democratic governors say the timing is right to join in dropping the mandates.
"The overwhelming sentiment on both sides of the aisle is we want to get to a place where we can live with this thing in as normal a fashion as possible," said Murphy last week. Carney similarly summed up the sentiment: "I want to be clear about this point—COVID is still circulating in our communities," he tells CNN. "And the virus still poses a risk of serious illness, particularly among those who are not up to date on their vaccinations. But we have the tools to keep ourselves and each other safe." (Read more mask mandates stories.)