New Jersey will end its school mask mandate on March 7, Gov. Phil Murphy said Monday.
Though the state mandate is ending, Murphy said school districts can continue their own mandates if they want -- and they are not permitted to ban masks, either.
The New Jersey Education Association -- with which Murphy is closely allied -- issued a statement endorsing the move, saying they were "cautiously optimistic" it was safe if trends continued.
Less than a month ago, Murphy declared a new public health emergency over the omicron variant and extended a number of executive orders that included the school and daycares mask mandate.
But Murphy told the New York Times in a Sunday interview that masks were never meant to be permanent, and that the change was timed for warmer weather, which would give schools more ventilation options.
New Jersey was hit badly by the omicron variant, consistently reporting more than 20,000 new infections a day for a large part of January. But just as quickly as the wave rose, it fell.
On Sunday the state recorded just 1,625 new COVID-19 cases, down 95% in a month and back to the levels usually seen before omicron arrived.
Later in the afternoon, Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont announced that the school mask mandate for his state would also be ending. The governor said that mandate, which also applies for child care centers, will end on Feb. 28. Individual districts will then have the choice whether to continue the mandate or drop them entirely.
New York Gov. Kathy Hochul said that she will make an announcement regarding masks on Wednesday.