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Hazlet schools will become mask-optional on March 7

HAZLET – When New Jersey’s school mask mandate is lifted on March 7, administrators in the Hazlet Township Public Schools will make the use of a mask optional for all individuals in the district’s eight schools.

Noting the significant decline of statewide COVID-19 metrics, on Feb. 7, Gov. Phil Murphy announced that masks and facial coverings will no longer be mandated for students, staff members or visitors in schools and childcare centers effective March 7.

Hazlet Superintendent of Schools Scott Ridley quickly informed the community about what would occur in Hazlet’s schools, writing on the district’s website that “Today, Gov. Murphy announced that as of March 7, masks will no longer be required in public schools.

“As I have shared many times, this (mask mandate) has always been an executive action ordered by the Governor and now that he has provided an end date for this directive, we will follow suit.

“Effective Monday, March 7, masks will not be required in the Hazlet public school system. As per the Governor, those who wish to continue with this practice will certainly be permitted as such, though this will be an option, not a mandate.

“Again, come March 7, masks will no longer be required in any of our eight schools though the option to continue wearing them will remain in place,” Ridley wrote.

Under a federal guideline, a mask will still be required to be worn on school buses.

In announcing the lifting of the mask mandate, Murphy said, “Thankfully, we have reached a point where we feel confident we can take another step toward normalcy for our kids.

“Given the continued drop in new cases and hospitalizations, projections indicating a continued decline … and the continued growth of vaccinations for our school-age population, we believe we can responsibly end the universal mask mandate,” he said.

The Governor said school district administrators and the operators of childcare facilities can choose to continue to implement universal masking policies after the mandate is lifted.

Schools that do not impose universal masking should revise their COVID policies to use masking among other prevention strategies under certain circumstances, according to a press release from Murphy’s office.

Schools will not be permitted to prohibit the use of facial coverings by individuals, according to the press release.

Prior to the mandate being lifted, the New Jersey Department of Health will release guidance to help school districts update their policies to align with the risks and unique needs of their setting and student population to ensure safe learning environments, according to the press release.

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