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Eatontown schools decide to make masks optional as of March 7

EATONTOWN – When New Jersey’s school mask mandate is lifted on March 7 during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the use of a mask will become optional for all individuals in the Eatontown Public Schools.

Superintendent of Schools Scott McCue announced the move to a mask-optional model for students, staff members and visitors in a Feb. 23 message posted on the district’s website.

“Based upon input from the school physician, the Monmouth County Health Department, school administration, the local (education) association, as well as the Board of Education, Eatontown Public Schools will adopt a mask-optional policy,” McCue wrote.

“Quite simply, students, staff or visitors will have the right to determine whether or not they choose to wear a mask inside the schools based upon their own decision-making process, in an environment free from harassment, intimidation and/or bullying,” he wrote.

In accordance with federal regulations, a mask will still be required for individuals on a school bus.

The superintendent said the use of a mask in schools may need to be reinstated if Eatontown enters a very high level of coronavirus activity or if recommended by the Monmouth County Health Department.

“The school district is still awaiting the guidance promised by the Governor on Feb. 7 related to the change in the mask mandate for schools,” McCue said. “There are still open questions regarding how this change will affect protocols such as close contacts, social distancing and quarantine. When the district receives this guidance, another communication will be sent to the entire school community.”

On Feb. 7, noting the significant decline of statewide COVID-19 metrics, 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.

“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 over the coming weeks, and the continued growth of vaccinations for our school-age population, we believe we can responsibly end the universal mask mandate,” Murphy was quoted as saying in a press release.

In announcing the lifting of the mask mandate, Murphy said school district administrators and the operators of childcare facilities can choose to continue to implement universal masking policies after the mandate is lifted in March.

Schools that do not impose universal masking should revise their COVID policies to use masking among other prevention strategies under certain circumstances, according to the press release.

School administrators will not be permitted to prohibit the use of facial coverings by any individual, according to the press release.

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