Two Democratic governors Philip D. Murphy in New Jersey and John Carney in Delaware have decided to end mask mandates in schools as the omicron wave is subsiding and infections due to this variant are milder. The New York Times was the first to report the easing of the mask mandate in NJ.
On Monday at 1 p.m., Governor Phil Murphy, who recently had a scare and finally won the gubernatorial elections with a slim majority, will announce the easing of the mandate during a briefing on the coronavirus. The new policy is expected to allow both teachers and students to remain unmasked from the second week of March, according to the Times.
In January, New Jersey had reported over 20,000 cases of omicron per day, on most days. However, the wave also fell sharply. On Sunday, the number of new COVID-19 cases was only 1,625. This is the number that was prevalent before the omicron wave surged in the state. The governor also said that warmer weather will improve ventilation in schools.
Delaware Governor John Carney said that the universal indoor mask mandate in the state would end on February 12 and mask mandates in schools will expire on March 31.
It has been two years since mask mandates have been enforced mainly in states that have Democrats as governors, whereas states with Republican governors, rarely if ever, enforced mandates. In fact, some of these states had even asked school districts not to put forth mask mandates.
The Biden administration has not laid out any steps for states to follow. Many states in the nation have eased norms as the omicron variant has not caused as much damage as early variants especially the initial variants.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recommended that schools should have in-person education and that everyone including teachers, students, staff and visitors wear masks, even if they are vaccinated.