Newark Catholic schools will lift mask mandate next month
NEWARK, N.J. -- Dozens of Catholic schools in New Jersey will join public schools on the growing list of those dropping their mask mandate in a few weeks.
The state's overall infection rate is back to roughly where it was before the Omicron variant, and Gov. Phil Murphy said he is confident in the date he set -- March 7 -- to remove the masks.
Thursday drop-offs at St. Michael's Elementary School in Newark will look different once kids have the option to go to school without wearing a mask, CBS2's John Dias reported.
"I think it's good. It's going back to normal," said Daniel Rojas, a parent.
"Other schools are doing it too, so what can we say at this point," said Destiny Rivera, another parent.
Coinciding with Murphy's new statewide rule, the Archdiocese of Newark will lift its mask mandate at all 70 schools on March 7. It impacts 50 elementary schools and more than 20 high schools in Bergen, Essex, Hudson and Union counties.
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Murphy remained confident in his decision, as the state's overall infection rate continues to drop.
"While we take every single one of these cases with the utmost seriousness, we feel equally good about these overall numbers," Murphy said Wednesday.
Many parents, however, are concerned about possibly lifting the mask mandate too early.
"Just until the end of the year," one parent said.
Some public school districts, including the state's largest, Newark, will hold off on lifting the mask mandate.
Connecticut's statewide mask mandate was extended to Feb. 28. After that, individual school districts will decide whether to enforce one. If COVID cases spike again, the state Department of Public Health could keep masks in place until the end of the school year on June 30.
New York Gov. Kathy Hochul said a combination of factors would determine when the state ends its school mask mandate. Hochul said Tuesday she plans to continue to monitor COVID trends -- local and global.
"It really is a holistic approach to it," Hochul said.
"I have to base it on the most current information. That will literately be the days before we do it," she added. "If we had said back in November, 'Let's take them off, we're fine now,' we were not fine. This was still an ongoing, dangerous pandemic. So I feel confident with the trends."
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Meanwhile, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention still urges everyone to wear masks inside schools. The CDC director told a White House panel while there is no timeline for relaxing its school mask guidance, health officials in general should plan for the path ahead.
"We want to give people a break from things like mask wearing when these metrics are better, and then have the ability to reach for them again should things worsen," Dr. Rochelle Walensky said.
Back in New Jersey, masks will still be required on buses, since they fall under federal transportation mandates.
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