NJ schools can drop mask rules in extreme heat; some drop for remainder of school year

TRENTON, N.J. (WCBS 880) — Gov. Phil Murphy is allowing schools to drop mask mandates amid extreme weather conditions, but some schools are taking the rule change a step further.

As per an executive order issued by Gov. Murphy in the summer of 2020, schools are permitted to lift mask mandates for students and staff during extreme weather conditions – including extreme heat.

The exemption was largely ignored until heat arrived in the Northeast this week, bringing temperatures up to nearly 90 degrees in some areas.

Gov. Murphy, at his press conference, reminded schools that they can forego their masks rules while the temperature persist, but noted no official change was coming yet.

“What we're not saying is that you could take your mask off forever and always,” the governor said.

Murphy also did not provide a definition for what qualifies as “extreme heat,” and will instead leave that to the discretion of individual districts.

“Use your responsibility wisely,” the governor told district officials across the state. “Do the right thing.”

However, several districts are going a step further and are using Murphy’s heat exemption to lift mask requirements for the remainder of the school year. That includes schools in Clark, East Brunswick, Point pleasant and Middletown.

Other districts are relaxing rules only for buildings that aren't air conditioned. That issue came to a head in Manalapan, where parents voted in a survey in favor of lifting mask rules.

Superintendent John Marciante, who was against it, decided to put himself on leave rather than change the rule.

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