TRENTON – Gov. Phil Murphy announced several large rollbacks in COVID-19 restrictions, the largest of which is that there will be no remote schooling option for any school district in New Jersey for the 2021-22 school year.
One of the first huge changes to life during COVID was that districts needed to provide remote education if they were not able to have social distancing or other safety protocols in place. Parents would opt out of in-person education, and the children would learn with live instruction being broadcast. These lessons would be supported with work sessions at home.
Come September, parents will not be allowed to opt out of in-person education, Murphy said during a press conference on May 17.
With at least 70% of adults in New Jersey getting at least one shot of a vaccine already, and children as young as 12 being able to get vaccinated, he said it would be safe for children to return to school.
However, if there is a local outbreak, it would be handled locally.
No Travel Advisory
The travel advisory will also be lifted, Murphy announced.
If someone is coming from out of state or if you travel out of state and come back to New Jersey, there no longer has to be a period of quarantine.
This change is being made just before Memorial Day, the unofficial start of summer for tourist areas.
However, he did warn about traveling out of the country. “The COVID reality in other nations is much different than here,” he said. He urged travelers to be safe and use common sense.
No Masks Outside
Another big difference is that the mask mandate is being lifted for outside events, Murphy said, effective immediately.
However, masks still need to be worn inside, he said.
The virus has been known to transmit more easily indoors that outside.
“We’re not out of the woods yet,” he said. Letting people go maskless indoors might be premature, and might cause the virus to spread and undo the hard work people have done to contain this.
While the Centers for Disease Control has dropped the suggestion of wearing masks inside, Murphy said there’s no way to know who is vaccinated and who isn’t.
He doesn’t expect grocery store workers or other frontline workers to police the front door and make sure you have your vaccine card if you’re not wearing a mask.
Wearing a mask is a sign of respect for those around you, he said.
“This is not forever and always,” he said about wearing masks inside. “We just need more time on the clock.”