New Jersey Students May Have to Wear Masks When School Resumes, Murphy Says

April 20, 2020 Updated: April 20, 2020

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy recently suggested that students may have to wear protective masks when they are allowed to go back to school.

When asked during a press briefing whether students will be required to wear masks when schools reopen in the Garden State, Murphy replied that, in his “personal opinion,” students would have to wear masks.

“I would bet the answer is yes, that we will be masked when kids go back to school,” the governor said, stressing that his remark should be taken as a “personal guess,” rather than a mandate.

Murphy also suggested that the face-covering practice might not only apply to students, but also to teachers and staff.

“I would think anybody,” Murphy said. State Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli, who was also at the briefing, didn’t dispute that statement.

The governor didn’t specify whether they would have to wear masks if they return in May or June, or if it would also apply if schools reopen in September.

Murphy’s comments came a day after he extended the statewide school closure through at least May 15, saying that he wouldn’t reopen schools until health officials deem it safe.

“We have deliberately bought ourselves another window of four weeks,” he said on April 17. “That’s my answer today based on what we all know today. But let’s see what that looks like when we make any other decisions.”

Meanwhile, in California, Gov. Gavin Newsom also reminded students and teachers that things might look very different when they eventually return to school.

Newsom said during a press briefing that he’s talked to school district leaders regarding a host of restrictive measures to be put in place for reopened schools, including cutting class sizes and asking students to come to school at different times.

“Can you stagger the times that our students come in so you can appropriate yourself differently within the existing physical environment—by reducing physical contact if possible, reducing the congregate meal, dressing issues related to PE and recess?” Newsom said. “Those are the kinds of things—those are the kind of conversations we’re all going to be having over the course of the next number of weeks and the next number of months.”

California is using six criteria to determine when it’s safe to start loosening the statewide stay-at-home order. One of them is the ability for schools and child care facilities to support physical distancing.