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Gov. Murphy Expected To Mandate Masks In New Jersey Schools This Fall For All Students K-12

MONTCLAIR, N.J. (CBSNewYork) -- New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy is expected to announce Friday that masks will be required in classrooms this fall for all K-12 students.

CBS2's Nick Caloway went to Montclair on Thursday evening to talk to parents and students.

As the COVID-19 cases continue to tick up, some parents said they saw the mask plan coming, but Caloway had to break the news to some unhappy students that they will likely be wearing face coverings this fall.

"If we're going back to school, I wouldn't want to be in a stuffy class with a mask on all day," a sixth grader named Morgan said.

"No, I hate that. No, because it gets fuzzy and I have to itch my nose," a third grader named Maddy added.

Morgan and Maddy were home-schooled for all of last school year. They were hoping to go back to school mask-free this fall.

But that seems unlikely now.


This is a turnaround for the governor, who had previously said the state was not planning to have a statewide mandate, that he would leave it up to individual districts.

"I'm expecting it. It's going to be safe for the kids. We have a 7-year-old and a 13. He's vaccinated, she's not. So completely understand health comes first," Glen Ridge parent Ashish Parmar said.

"I think that right now we don't know what we don't know about the Delta variant, and I think that even if you're vaccinated it may make sense to be masked up in public places," Cedar Grove parent Carolyn Ickes added.

Ickes and her husband, Charles, disagree on this one.

"No, a total waste of time. The kids, they're just not going to wear masks, right? They'll wear them, but they're like half down or cockeyed, or whatever. So, I don't know what the purpose is, personally," Charles Ickes said.

He said vaccines should be the real priority -- not masks.

"A lot of people have had a lot of opportunities to take their vaccination. I think it's very unfortunate that they haven't followed through. We really need to get everybody to vaccinate," Charles Ickes said.

But the Centers for Disease Control has said masks are necessary in schools because kid under the age of 12 can't get a vaccine.


The news comes as the Delta variant has unleashed a rush of new cases and hospitalizations around the country, including in New Jersey.

Down the shore, a coronavirus cluster has turned into an outbreak. At least 20 teenagers have tested positive for COVID. The common denominator appears to be attendance at so-called "teen nights" at clubs on Long Beach Island.

LBI Health Officer Daniel J. Krupinski said due to the transient nature of this vacation community, "It can be hard to really understand the sheer numbers due to underreporting or mild symptoms that may not get captured in a laboratory test. So, the outbreak could be larger than we are reporting."

One parent Caloway talked to said she's even preparing for the possibility that schools go virtual again. But so far the governor has been adamant that kids will be in classrooms this fall.

CBS2's Nick Caloway contributed to this report.

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