NJ School Mask Mandate Finally Being Lifted



Used facemask left on the street. Original public domain image from Flickr

Christina Kerris, Staff Writer

Rona, macarona, the rons, corona –  all nicknames for the commonly known virus COVID-19 that has taken over our world for the past two years. Everywhere you go, people are wearing masks. First discovered in March of 2020, COVID-19 has impacted the entire world greatly. Students have been virtual, adults have lost their jobs, and the entire economy has been in a mess. So many people take photos and smile, forgetting that their faces cannot be seen through the mask. Barely being able to recognize which child is yours in photos. Just seeing two eyes, and no smile. Finally, after two long years of surgical masks, hand sanitizer, social distancing, and forgetting what your friends look like without a mask on, COVID-19 is finally slowing down and coming to a stop. Get ready for a bunch of excited cries of “finally!” and seeing people’s faces from the eyes down for the first time in years.

New Jersey’s Governor Murphy announced that Monday, March 7th 2022, the school mask mandate will be lifted calling the move “a huge step back to normalcy for our kids.” After two years of masks being enforced, finally, teachers, staff and students will have the ability to decide if they want to wear a mask to school. This marks the end of a controversial pandemic restriction. Murphy left it up to the district of schools to decide, and luckily Freehold Township schools are letting us go maskless into the building come Monday. In recent weeks, U.S. school closings from COVID-19 have dropped dramatically. During the week of Jan 31, 539 schools experienced at least one day of closing and disruption. This number is down 75% from the previous week and down 93% from the year’s high from the week of Jan 10th, according to Burbio, a company that tracks school closures. In November, Murphy was reelected with a narrow margin and became the first Democrat in our state to win a second term in four decades. In January, he reinstated a public-health emergency in response to the Omicron COVID-19 cases. This drew criticism from the Republicans who wanted desperately to return back to “normalcy”. Pushing for a mask mandate lift, Republicans said it should take effect immediately. Now finally, after two years of remote and hybrid schedules, schools will be returning to normalcy, or the most that is possible at this time.

This controversial issue has become a hot topic for conversations. It has separated families and friends and put a block between us. Many people have mixed feelings on COVID in general, and problems have arisen especially now because of the mandate lift. Many people have said that they don’t need to wear a mask, especially if they are vaccinated or you’re around someone that is and “why get the vaccine if you still need a mask?”, “why does everyone care so much about a virus that has a 99% survival rate?” and “why put chemicals in my body when no one knows the long-term effects of it?” On the other hand, there are the people, “I wear a mask for your safety, please wear one for mine.” People are called an “anti-masker” or “anti-vaxxer” or even a “stupid liberal”. This has even brought back the popular slogan, “my body, my choice”, referring to being forced to wear masks and get a vaccine. There have been so many debates and protests of parents saying to not “muzzle the children” with masks. Others say masks should stay mandated. Either way, COVID and masks, by far one of the most controlling and important problems in history, have completely separated and destroyed our world. People refusing to follow the rules, or willingly doing everything they are told to do, even when they don’t know the harm or science behind some things.

Get ready for Monday, the first step back to normalcy in a long time.