Schools are opening and the fight over masks is bound to continue, and if possible, get more heated.
August has seen angry demonstrations by opponents, litigation to stop the mandate and some stormy school board meetings.
Phil Murphy at his briefing today took solace from a recent poll that showed the mask-in-school mandate backed by more than 60 percent of respondents.
Fine and good, but what happens if some disobey?
The governor said the mandate is not a “polite suggestion.”
A little later, he explained that a missive from mommy is not going to do a student any good.
“This is not mom or dad writing a note saying Johnny or Sally doesn’t want to wear one,” he said.
The governor said that despite some uncertainty when the mandate was announced a few weeks ago, most school districts are on board.
Enforcing the mandate presumably will fall on teachers and administrators. For his part, Murphy said the state will not take violations lightly.
Some may recall that back in June, a school mask mandate seemed unlikely. The Delta variant changed that.
As he has done throughout the pandemic, Murphy framed the debate as a need for residents to think of others.
He said it’s not a time for selfishness or political posturing, but a time to do what’s necessary to keep people safe.
What seems to get lost in the passionate, and at times angry, debate over masks in schools is that it’s unknown how long it will last.
The school year is almost 10-months long and it’s hard to see the mandate lasting even half that long.
The governor has made the point that a mask mandate can instantly disappear, but in a polarized environment, nuance is lost.
Still, Murphy went there again today, saying that the school mask mandate is unlikely to be “forever and always.”