Major school districts around the country are allowing students into classrooms without masks for the first time in nearly two years, eliminating rules that stirred up intense fights among educators, school boards and parents throughout the pandemic.
New York City became the latest school district to do away with its mask requirement Monday, joining Houston, Dallas and a handful of states that made similar moves in the last week. Parents, teachers and principals face a complicated balancing act in navigating the new rules. Some families are thrilled that their children no longer have to wear masks, while others are stressed out over the change and urging their kids to keep wearing face coverings. Teachers and principals are caught in the middle.
New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy said Monday that he's hopeful that school mask mandates will be a thing of the past.
Murphy said on CNBC, “Can I say that they’re done forever? I don’t think anyone can say that for sure. I certainly hope we’re done forever.” He said, “But it feels very much like we are on that road from pandemic to endemic, that we’ll be able to live with this in a normal way responsibly like we do with the flu,” he added. “It very much feels like that’s where we’re headed right now, and let’s hope it stays that way.”
New York City schools Chancellor David Banks said the choice to wear a mask “will be made by parents and their families,” the New York Post reported.
United Federation of Teachers chief Mike Mulgrew said, “Our doctors agree with the city’s medical experts that this is the right time to safely move from a mask mandate to an optional mask system."
And in Alaska, the school superintendent for the city of Anchorage said that lifting the mask mandate for the city's almost 100 public schools was a relief.