How opportune was the lifting of the mask mandate?


With the mask mandate being lifted, some are wondering if this decision came too soon.

Dara Fisher and Ronit Khromchenko

The school mask mandate was lifted by Governor Phil Murphy, sparking speculation over whether it was the appropriate time to lift the mask mandate.

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, masks have been required in all New Jersey schools. After two years of following CDC guidelines, it seems that it is finally time to lift the mask mandate.

After a recent surge in COVID-19 cases due to the Omicron variant, the number of those infected has drastically decreased. According to Our World in Data, 74.5% of New Jersey’s population, which is around 6.62 million people, have been fully vaccinated. The increase of vaccination rates has lowered the risk of transmission, making it much safer to be without a mask in school.

Lifting the mandate has also relieved the large toll they have taken on students. Wearing masks makes it far more difficult for students to socialize with their peers and takes away from the “normal” school experience. Teachers have also experienced difficulties connecting with students the same way that they did before the pandemic.

“People should have a choice in whether they want to wear their masks in school,” said sophomore Molly Arcara of Red Bank. “If anyone doesn’t feel comfortable, they are able to keep wearing it. It’s been two years since the pandemic began, so the mandate should be lifted.”

Freshman Phin Whedon of Wall Township appreciates no longer having to wear a mask during fitness class.

“It’s really difficult to work out while wearing a mask, so I’m very happy that the mandate was lifted,” Whedon said.

Masks have been extremely important and effective in slowing the spread of COVID-19, however, the benefits of lifting the mandate seem to outweigh the risks.

According to the CDC there are other ways to prevent the spread of COVID-19 which include frequent handwashing and disinfecting surfaces.

In accordance with new CDC guidance and current COVID-19 rates within the community, the MCVSD District Pandemic Team implemented a mask-optional policy at CHS as of March 7. Superintendent of the MCVSD academies, Dr. Charles Ford Jr., sent a letter explaining the matter.

“As always, we will follow the situation closely and update our response to best support the health and safety of our learning community,” Ford said.